Please note that the links in the article below may not work.  This article was written on 07/29/1999 by Joyce Peterson,
Staff Writer of the Daily Oklahoman.  The article and pictures belong to the Oklahoman, and the writers/photographers involved.  This article is posted only to preserve it and to share it with those who did not receive the paper.

BACK TO V2 Main Page

Fired Up
Members of Tripoli Oklahoma carry their homemade rocket after running some tests at Wiley Post Airport. The hobbyists plan to launch the rocket Sunday in Kansas.
Staff Photo by Bryan Terry

Local Rocket Club Fired Up About Meet

By Joyce Peterson
Staff Writer

They'll be heading out for a field in Kansas today, hauling their 141/2-foot-long, 22-inch-diameter black and white-checked cargo. They'll set up just over the Oklahoma line in Argonia, Kan., joining about 400 to 500 other people.

Team member Dale Birchett expects it to be hot, dusty and dry.


The Oklahoma City chapter of Tripoli Oklahoma, which has 26 members, is affiliated with a national group, the Tripoli Rocketry Association. A second state chapter is organized in Tulsa.

The non-profit group is dedicated to advancing the hobby of high-powered rocketry and offers a certification program that allows members to buy rocket engines and launch the rockets. It also sponsors a national rocketry show each year, publishes a hobby magazine and newsletter and maintains contact with its members through several Internet sites. For more information, see:

To get to the Argonia, Kan., event, take Interstate 35 north, exit at the Wellington, Kan., exit. Go west on U.S. 160 to Argonia. In Argonia, take unsigned highway south to intersection of Kansas 44; turn east and go 1 mile and then turn north for 1/4-mile. The Oklahoma City group's launch of its scale model V-2 rocket is scheduled for 8 a.m. Sunday.

When it's their turn, they'll light the fuses; the V-2 replica rocket will shoot straight up 4,500 feet, pop a parachute and -- if all goes well -- float gently back to Earth.

The whole experience will last about 15 seconds.

"Most of us played with model rockets as kids," said Birchett, a member of Oklahoma City's Tripoli Rocketry Association.

The 26 club members build and show model rockets -- everything from foot long pop-ups built by individuals, to the V-2 replica, which will use enough fuel in flight to require a permit from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

"Its an adult hobby now," said club President Tracy Dungan, 37, of Midwest City.

Not a cheap one, either. Some of the displays scheduled for the national meet this week may have cost their builders up to $1,000.

The show runs today through Sunday near the town 15 miles north of the Oklahoma border and southwest of Wichita.

The Tripoli Club's V-2 replica, despite its size, is one of the more inexpensive ventures, built with salvage aircraft parts. It cost no more than $150 in material and the builders' time in a hangar at Associated Aero Service, the aircraft repair shop Birchett, 49, and two brothers own at Wiley Post Airport.

The V-2's shape is based on the World War II German rockets used on London during the Blitz.

But the design was more coincidental than historical. Birchett and his brother, Sam, also a member of Tripoli, found a scrap commercial jet fuel tank once.

"Sam said, 'Wouldn't that make a nice mold for a rocket?'"

And the V-2 project was born.

Using the fuel tank for a form, club members shaped the rocket body with fiberglass resin and built fins with a fiberglass board normally used to build the interior compartments of aircraft.

Hollow and lightweight, the rocket will also be equipped with video and still cameras to capture all the sights during the 15-second flight.

Birchett, who has been a member of the club for nearly 10 years, said its members run the gamut from artists and woodworkers to engineers and computer programmers.

"We're not rocket scientists," Dungan said.

But many of them have been building hobby rockets for years. They learn from each other, the Internet and hobby magazines.

"We just fly it because its fun," Dungan said.