Sunday, 26 July 2015 18:26

Clear with a chance of sonic boom

Sir Winston at HellFire 18 Sir Winston at HellFire 18 Dave Inskeep

UPDATE!  Due to the softness and fragile state of the salt this year, the BLM has requested that we keep our speeds while driving on the salt to no more than 20 to 30 mph. This is good to keep the salt spray off your vehicle too.

SALT LAKE CITY—Don’t be too quick to cry earthquake! If you notice a tremor on the Salt Flats between July 30 and August 2, you may be feeling the effects of HELLFIRE, the Utah Rocket Club’s (UROC) biggest launch event.

We’re not kidding. Some of HELLFIRE’s so-called “amateur” rockets stand 18 feet tall, weigh 108 pounds, burn up to $700 in fuel in a single launch, and roar up from the ground with up to 750 pounds of thrust. They may reach 25,000 feet and even break the sound barrier. Even from a safe distance, it’s not unusual to feel a blast of heat, shaking underfoot, and an occasional sonic boom. It’s no wonder that HELLFIRE requires Federal Aviation Administration approval.

If smaller rockets are more to your taste, HELLFIRE has plenty of those, too. Hobbyists launch everything from simple one-footers to larger models with complex electronics and multiple parachutes. And you never know when someone might launch what looks less like a rocket and more like Darth Vader or the Travelocity Gnome.

The 20th HELLFIRE is cause for celebration. Accordingly, UROC has announced the Hellfire Awards Banquet, with the keynote to be delivered by founder and CEO of RCS Rocket Motor Components Gary Rosenfield. Besides an amateur rocket enthusiast, Rosenfield is a bonafide rocket professional, having worked on such notable missiles as the Minuteman, Peacekeeper, Harpoon, Hawk, Standard Missile and Sidewinder. He is the founder of Composite Dynamics, AeroTech, and Survival Laser. In 1995, he founded RCS, which manufactures rocket motors, components and related products for hobby, educational, commercial, industrial, military and motion picture special effects use. Rosenfield has served on the board of the National Association of Rocketry and the Tripoli Rocketry Association, where he holds a lifetime membership. There is a $70 fee to attend the banquet, which will be held the evening of Saturday, August 1, at Wendover’s Montego Bay. Those interested in attending should email Heather Park.

A popular family outing, HELLFIRE is free to the public. No reservation is needed.

Between launches, spectators can enjoy a close look at rockets and components while visiting with experts as they prep rockets for launch.

Tips for visitors:

  • There is no charge to attend HELLFIRE. Spectators of all ages are welcome.
  • The launch takes place on the Bonneville Salt Flats near Wendover, Utah. Take Exit 4 on Interstate 80 and follow the easy-to-spot signs.
  • Launches begin the afternoon of Thursday, July 30. Insiders recommend Saturday, August 1, as the day with the most launches and variety. Plans are subject to weather. Visitors are advised to check before driving to the launch.
  • Visitors should bring binoculars, hats, chairs, shade, lots of sunscreen, food, snacks, and plenty
  • of drinking water.
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The Utah Rocket Club is an Not for Profit organization dedicated to the promotion of safe and fun activities for people of all ages through the sport, science, and hobby of rocketry. The Utah Rocket Club supports the community through educational presentations, demonstration launches and displays for youth groups, nonprofit organizations, etc.

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