I’m Gonna Build Me a Rocket! Part I

No, I haven’t turned into some, tiny version of Homer Hickam! If you have no clue who I am talking about, watch the film “October Sky” starring Jake Gyllenhaal. It’s actually pretty good on the PA Scale–that being, I’d watch it over again several times–although, not quite sure if I’d buy the DVD…

But as per the title of this post, PAs building a rocket! With a little help.  No, a lot of help!

My friend J. has been building rockets seemingly since he popped out of the womb.  Really, though, he’s done it for years! He even went down and spent a fair amount of time in the southern U.S. to teach kids how to do it! Okay, time to teach PA! And I’ve got pictures for you too! As above, per the title as well, I’m not finished yet so there will be more to come!


This is a basic, starter example with a few things put together and done.  The body is 16 inches in length.  We decided to cut our body sizes in half.  So, what was the next step? What sort of “fins” do we want? Those things on the back that make it look like a big dart!

Being crazy me from his choices, I wanted mine to be “pretty!” *laughing*


That is J. tracing out my choice from his paper templates.  Trust me, I soon regretted my decision.


The fins are made of balsa.  I think he told me why but I don’t remember! *rolls eyes*  Well, I think basically, it’s not heavy so that makes good sense! The rest of it all is very light! Although, I do know one reason when building and using the balsa is very important when flying them.  Because I fucked it up!


So, here is J., yet again, tracing out my three, wonderful fins.  Only three required, I suppose, because we were going with an eight inch body.  No more than that were required.

Now, before I continue, no matter how much “fun” this was, my manual dexterity is terrible! Even though J. did all of the tracing, he allowed me to finally get in on the action and cut out what he’d done.  Balsa is extremely fragile, so you don’t just hack away at it.  No, use a small pen knife and just keep running it over the lines as if it were a piece of paper he told me.

Well, let’s just say I didn’t do so well in that area.  He told me not to worry…yes, it is difficult but as long as you don’t “completely” destroy things, a little bit of sanding down on the rough edges will do the trick.  Whew!


So, yes.  Here we are with my “beautiful” fins, my body and note the rather large, black piece of “sandpaper” that I had to use.  For a while.  A fairly, long while. *laughing*  Good grief! However, I managed to make it through to this point.

Now, you may not be able to see clearly but there are lines drawn on one end (the bottom that is hanging slightly off the table.)  These lines are extremely important and here is where I messed up not once (again) but twice!

Three of the lines are drawn with definite precision so you can glue the fins to the end.  And oh, my, the glue! I was getting it all over the fins, the body…ME! That’s okay, J. said.  You just wipe it off!

First screw up? The lines of the balsa grain have to go in the direction of flight.  I glued one fin on the wrong way.  Oops.  Not paying attention.  There is another line in addition to the ones for your fins.  I glued a fin onto that.  But I didn’t know what it was for!


Well, I finally figured out what it was for because it was the next thing we built! And thank god for that “yellow-standy-uppy-thing” as it gives you more stability to work with!

Do you seen that brown cylinder to the right with the two green rings around it? That’s the “motor.”  Basically what makes it shoot off? Rocket go boom into sky? W00t! Although, we’re not done with that part yet.  We haven’t finished all that needs to be done, there.

Also, I still have to paint my rocket! Yes, I get to make it all happy with colours! I haven’t decided what I want yet and obviously, the nose cone isn’t on it.  That’s kind of important as well as, yes, the (para)chute goes inside so it floats down and you can go grab it.  Yes, we’re putting chutes in it? Well, I want one in mine!

You’ve got it! I get to keep it as a souvenir!

Stay tuned…again, more rocket building to come!


  1. Have you seen a movie with johnny deep, jerry lewis (quite old), 2 womans which I do not remember the name, and another guy. The film has music from iggy pop and others, and I think it was directed by kusturica, (all this I am saying just cause I am lazy to open imdb). The story is that the older woman is obsessed with building a flying device where she and maybe other person can fly. She tries this thousands of times and always crashes, I love that part of the movie.
    I think there is a part of the lyrics from iggy pop that says “in the death car”.
    Changing the subject that is a great activity/hoby, I think it improves the mental health of people who use their mind/intelect too much to do something manual (a sport also helps), I was planing to start making origamis as a hobby, but then I found an amazing computer program that kind of does them for you, it marks the lines, show you how to fold, … so I didn’t start, I know it is not due to the program, that is just an excuse, but the program is great anyway.
    Well the thing about doing something with your body is that you get in touch with other parts of your self, pay atention to other places you genetally ignore. So you have a more holistic perception of yourself, which is cool, cause you are not only your brain, you are also your arms, legs, …, and the interaction among those parts are also yours.


  2. Hi mariana. No, I haven’t seen that movie. I should look it up because you are too lazy! *laughing* Like me before…haha! That does sound funny about it always crashing. It sounds like a good analogy for my life? *rolls eyes*

    Yes, J. was telling me how much he really enjoys it and it takes his mind off things so I agree with you.

    You sound like me! Ah, just an excuse…

    Funny you should mention the last part about doing something with your body in a holistic sense. I have been dying to get into Martial Arts for years and as above, always find an excuse not to do it! However, I really, really want to now!

    There is a place in my neighbourhood that I read about where they pay more attention to the people, even at risk of losing money as they will try and work with you if you can’t pay the full membership costs. I think that is amazing.

    I want to go down there and just see what it would cost but…argh! If it’s not too bad, maybe? I could tell them I am not working right now but somehow I feel like it would be taking advantage of them. Still, I should go check it out anyway.

    Not to mention, I think I’d look really cute in the outfits! *wink*

    Take care,


  3. that is so cool! i can’t wait to read about the first uh, …successful launch.

    (notice how i completely avoided any infantile penile references? *pats self on back* *grinning*)


  4. Hi Arkay. I know. It is pretty cool, isn’t it? It’s something I’ve never done before and I looooove learning new things!

    And yay! Good for you for holding back! However, don’t hold back for too long. It will cause you serious, bodily injury!

    So yes, moving along…if the weather stays decent today, I’m going to head back over to J.’s and finish it up. Or at least work some more on it.

    I’m not quite sure what is left but painting it, getting the motor done and then putting the nose cone on. After that, then I guess it’s countdown time!

    Not today, though. The weather is pretty dodgy so we need a good, clear day with lots of sun. Launching a rocket in the rain? “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist” to realize that’s a bad idea!

    OMG, I need more tea! I think that is the most pathetic ball of wordplay I’ve “launched” at you ever!

    And they just keep “falling from the sky and exploding!”


  5. yes, i have heard it’s a good idea to make sure to put a nose cone on your rocket (each time) before you launch it, after you get your motor running of course, …and i’ve found launching when it’s really wet is actually the best time… lol.

    (took your advice here, as you can see *grin*)

    and the whole “rocket scientist” thing is definitely up there (not quite in orbit tho) :P


  6. Hi Arkay. Well, ya sure, done, gone ‘n’ did it there!

    No, I must say, absolutely, well done.

    Maybe it’s because I neither have a penis, nor sleep with men, I just had some kind of block to the penis/phallic object references. That doesn’t seem to make sense, however.

    PA does not discriminate! And who you wish to sleep with is not discrimination! Sorry, hon’…I’m giving you that loophole!

    Take care and I was a dolt and forgot my camera last night. So we just had a social evening. Anyway, I’ll/we’ll get moving on it.


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