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Monday, June 08, 2015

Kick-Ass Weekend Part V: Austin's 5th

So after Critical Mass, the BikeSmut film festival, Dirty Kanza, Camping in Madison, cycling from Madison to Colony, we hit my nephew's birthday party.

This is still just a regular two day weekend, right?

Austin is a bright, earnest, rambunctious kid and I really enjoy him. He worries a lot about me eating spicy foods, a practice he finds bizarre and deeply disturbing. Turning five, I reasoned, he's the perfect age to take on a model rocket launch. I used to fly a lot, almost daily in summertime, before my kiddos got too cool for it. I enjoyed them enough to fly without kids some, but fell out of the habit. I have a couple of rockets in the basement that are pretty much ready to fly, another that could be with a fairly simple repair. I figured as a birthday present I'd get the lad a kit, one that's pretty near ready to fly, the starter setups Estes makes that come with a launch controller and launch rod. I figured I should run this by my brother first, since I'm volunteering him to build the thing—they're not difficult but they're not ready to launch out of the box, either, quite. He's game, so now I need to pick one out.

And then, meantime, I put in his card a promise to take him flying rockets. He's old enough to enjoy the countdown and chasing the recovered rocket down. I have a ton of motors, though the black powder ones that have sat in storage upwards of five years, I don't know if I want to use those. The biggest risks would be CATOs and lawn darts, both of which generally ruin a rocket. I have a couple of composite E's, too, and I only want to use those on relatively hefty craft because, hard experience, you put that many newtons under a light rocket and good luck finding the sucker.

But the one thing I'm sure of, there isn't a kid who's immune to the fun of a launch. Adults, for that matter, if they give it half a chance. A model rocket has no utilitarian function at all (possibly you could argue camera rockets make interesting pictures but Google Earth beats it and all you have to do is dial that up). A model rocket flight is pure fun. It goes up because it can, it comes down because it must, just like a manta ray jumping out of the ocean (Peter Benchley wrote a stirring piece about the rays in the Sea of Cortez, arguing that manta rays don't jump from biological necessity but for the hell of it).

I think I have some Hot Wheels track from my childhood in the basement from my childhood that needs to find its way to Austin, too. It's all interchangeable and my kids have outgrown it. If and when I have grandchildren, I might want some of that back.

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