Rocket Pictures #9
Nostalgia: EnerJets and such...

The debut of Launch magazine and the articles on early rocketry, combined with some posts on The Rocketry Forum and Ye Olde Rocket Forum made me reminisce a little over some Enerjet demo launches I saw while attending the Southwest Model Rocket Conferences (SWMRC) in New Mexico from 1971 to 1973.

SWMRC '71 took place on the campus of Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, NM. It was my first modroc conference. I attended with my best friend Greg Smith, and it was a pretty cool deal--two 14 year olds on their own on a college campus! We stayed in a dorm room and discovered foosball (we were from a small town in Arizona and this was way before game arcades...)

This was my first time to meet Pat Miller (former NAR prez), to meet Larry Brown from Centuri/Enerjet, and to be exposed to the strange world of calculus (thanks Pat ;^) ). My prime reason to attend SWMRC was to fly in the contests, but after being exposed to the technical side of rocketry, the Seed of Engineering was planted...

SWMRC '72 took place on the University of New Mexico campus in Albuquerque.

Here is Larry Brown preparing to launch the EnerJet AeroDart--we thought this had to be the coolest rocket in the world...

...until Larry setup and launched the NikeRam the following day!!! EnerJet advertised this rocket would go over a mile on an F67 motor, and we believed it after watching this baby take off. I have simmed this on Rocksim and it predicts an altitude closer to 3700 ft. Still, the NikeRam is one cool looking rocket!

Also present that year, Gary Schwede flew a boosted dart powered by an EnerJet motor.

IIRC, the booster contained a timer that started when an umbilical plug pulled out at liftoff to fire the parachute pyro. A timer on board the dart started when the dart separated from the booster when the motor burned out.

The flight was awesome, my first "big motor" launch. That launcher was pretty impressive too. Each arm adjusted the launch angle and was locked in place. The rails were the (then) new Estes "C" rails which were attached to the wooden arms. The guys from EnerJet were so impressed they mentioned the dart in their newsletter.

SWMRC '73 was at the University of New Mexico campus in Albuquerque. I don't remember doing it, but I won 1st place Jr Division in the Lifting Body contest flying an X-24--the reason I know, is I have a newspaper clipping of an article about the conference.

A large portion of the article was devoted to Gary Schwede's latest project: a two stage, EnerJet-powered beast!

You need to remember that "F" motors were the biggest things we could get a hold of then, and staging two composite motors was unheard of. Gary used a timer system similar to his dart project to fire the upper stage motor. The "L" shaped rod running along the bottom of the rocket pulled the arming umbilical.

Sharp eyes will recognize the fin units. EnerJet had just announced they were for sale, and had a 1340 on display at the conference (I don't recall one being flown). The probe sticking out of the nose holds a thermistor, to record temperature during ascent and descent of the rocket.

I am so proud of the liftoff shot. I had just received my Minolta SRT-101 for my 16th birthday, and had only had it for about 3 weeks before SWMRC. I was hoping the 1/1000th sec shutter would catch the liftoff, and it did! Notice the smokeless EnerJet? Sure made tracking difficult. The roar of the 2nd stage ignition was awesome as it reverberated from the hills near the launch site. IIRC, Gary lost the rocket but found it the next day.