Underground Diaries, Part 36
Some of the rocketry guys–the brass in the organizations and venders–expressed concern about being represented as too extreme. This had everything to do with a pending court decision on whether a key ingredient of the powerful rocket motors they prefer was going to continue to be clumped in with dangerous (as in useful for terrorists) explosives on a federal list. That’s why I love the ballsy name of one of the most popular annual rocketry confab: LDRS (Large Dangerous Rocket Ships). Of course, BALLS is a close contender as ballsy names go.
Who doesn’t find the idea of an event named Large, Dangerous Rocket Ships (LDRS) intoxicating? The moment I heard it, I was sold. I wouldn’t have cared if the next thing I heard was that LDRS were held on a barren wasteland in the middle of nowhere. Which is a good thing, because that’s the next thing I heard.
Turns out most big rocket events happen far from civilization (and when you think about it…). Imaginative event names are therefore essential for wooing attendees. Fortunately, rocketeers have exceptional imaginations. Should you want your next event to really take off, consider having a rocketeer name it.
ROCstock. If organizers don’t open these bi-annual rocketry blasts with Jimi Hendrix’s Woodstock rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner, they ought to have their heads examined (which might not be a bad idea, regardless). The Mojave Desert’s lifeless Lucerne Dry Lake, with its punishing temperature swings, is a rather hostile environment for a festival advertised as family-friendly. Yet, hundreds of rocketry nuts and the people who love them show up to ROCstocks each June and November. Appearances notwithstanding, organizers must not be completely crazy.
Dairy Aire. I thought people were speaking French when referring to this springtime, Central Valley, big rocket event. It wasn’t ’till I attended a launch put on by Dairy Aire’s sponsors at Maddox Dairy near Riverdale, Calif., that I realized their penchant for cornball puns. It’s right up there with their predilection for big ass rockets. I was treated to the launch of a 12-foot-tall rocket equipped with the most powerful engine allowed in the state. It was glorious, as was the dairy air that day. Though I’m afraid my journey to the event scarred me for life: passing downwind of stockyards for mile after harrowing mile, I was nearly sent into a fugue state by the smell of, well, derriere.
BALLS. What more, really, is there to say? Except that, your event better damn well deliver if you’re going to invoke testicular fortitude with its name. You will not be forgiven such cocksureness. By all accounts, this annual experimental launch does live up to its name: last September, rocketeer Wedge Oldham launched a DIY (that’s Do-It-Yourself) rocket the size of the Oscar Meyer Weiner Wagon. BALLS goes off each fall in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, familiar to many as the site of Burning Man festivals. Burning Man may claim to be about radical self-expression, but sending untested projectiles 100,000 feet straight up sounds pretty frickin’ radical to me.
And then there’s LDRS — Large, Dangerous Rocket Ships. How are you going to argue with a name like that? The fact that it’s a “non-professional” event only makes it that much more delirious. Though, the name does seem a tad provocative for organizers skittish about raising red flags with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Maybe honesty is the best policy. Things can be dangerous without being threats to homeland security. These rockets don’t carry warheads. And guidance systems are verboten, which is probably why LDRS generally goes off in the middle of nowhere.
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