Field Notes 2020: Part 1

2020 was a tough year. Rocketry really helped some of us get through it.

I took a recorder along to almost every launch I went to, and the result is this 2-part series, Field Notes 2020.

Because of the uncertainty, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to fly at all this past year. The NAR prohibited organized club launches for a while, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eventually, I made it out to some casual, 2-3 person launches. And then the clubs were able to fly again.

Despite the difficulties, I might have had more actual flights this year. At club launches, I spend a lot of time chatting with people, and don’t always fly as much as I mean to.  Informal launches are where I fly much more frequently in fewer hours’ time.

I introduced Little N00b to flying this year. He seemed to enjoy it, for a bit, until the excitement became a little too much for him. Two A-motor flights to start the year – it was better than nothing.

I finished a few new builds early in the summer, and they looked quite nice. I get nervous flying a model rocket when it turns out too nice, but they’re made to fly, so I eventually make myself do it (when the wind isn’t too bad!).

I flew my first Semroc models, the Cherokee D and Bandit, two “Retro-Repro” kits from earlier Estes designs.

When the club got back together, I wasn’t sure if I was more excited about the rocketry, or just seeing other people again! I took along my new camera and tried to capture some launch photos. I didn’t really get the hang of this at first, and it would be later in the season when I would get my first decent liftoff shots.

But I did get plenty of what I call “rocket boudoir photos,” rockets on the ground with the chutes out after a safe recovery.

I spent a lot of time after launches taking pictures. I didn’t always find the rocket I was looking for, but I got some nice shots of flowers and bees. And other peoples’ old, lost rockets.

It turned out to be a rather nice summer with mostly good weather. I hope you enjoy the episode.


  1. Great show, very imaginative, very creative. You put the listener at the field.
    I heard someone mention that I had 160 flights. I ended up with 210. I was hoping for a happy ending concerning your lost rocket. Little noob is getting big. A very cute kit.

  2. When Simon yelled, “I did it!” I was reminded of the first time I showed my daughter a launch when she was two. I had her press the controller button and she jumped when our Alpha took off but when we all clapped for her she yelled, “I pushed the button!”

    Truly wonderful show. I couldn’t help but smile the whole time as you were describing the same experiences and thoughts I have at launches. Well done.

  3. The year 2020 has been a difficult one for many people.
    But the space industry is experiencing a revolution, thanks to breakthroughs in technology.

    Private companies have entered the star race. They are inventing new rockets and satellites – cheap and light – and promising humanity affordable space. If you don’t believe it, remember that once upon a time even the first satellite in space seemed impossible. so who knows

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