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Aim for the sky and try not to miss!

Jim Flis' Rocketry Experience
Now, where was I?  Oh yea, I had just discovered the hobby of model rocketry in that field near the cemetery.

It was several months before my dad happened to bring me into a model shop to buy me a plastic model.  I thought I had entered the gates of Heaven!   Lo and behold, model rockets!  I could not believe my luck and asked (begged?) my dad to buy me a model rocket instead of a

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Jim with a class of happy rocketeers!
plastic model airplane.  He did (the Sky Hook) and I went home bubbling with excitement.

I had never worked with wood before (other than whittling that my granddad taught me) and had no experience with these types of materials.  To further my chagrin, it wasn't until I read the instructions that I realized that the "model rocket" was only the "rocket" part.  It didn't include motors nor launch pad nor launch controller.  I built the model (did a pretty good job, as I recall), but was at a loss as to how to obtain the other items I needed to launch this model.  None of my friends had ever heard of model rockets and there were no hobby shops near where I lived.  It was another month before my granddad visited and agreed to take me to the hobby shop.

There he shelled out several of his hard earned dollars for a package (remember them blue tube engine packs??) of model rocket motors, a port-a-pad, launch controller and recovery wadding.  Everything I needed!  And it only cost me 2 months of chores in Schroon Lake! (Mind you, chores at my grandparents home involved getting up at 4am to make dough and sauce for my grandma's pizzeria followed by splitting wood, painting, cleaning, cooking and serving customers and any other things that they could find to help me "build character").  Man, by the end of that summer, I had a bucket-load of character.  But I also had my launch equipment, so I was happy.

That small purchase was the first step in a long, long road.   As I increased my experience, I began scratch building my own designs using parts from kits.  It wasn't long before I was ordering kits and materials that my hobby shop didn't carry, and I expanded my experience and complexity of design.  By the time I reached high school, I was quiet the experienced model rocketeer.

In the years that followed I discovered the NAR and model rocket clubs and conventions.  It wasn't long before I was a NAR member (#35098) and actively seeking a club.  Discovering that there were none in my area, I contacted the local newspaper to tell them that I was going to present a model rocket launch demo.  With their help, I advertised it a week before and they joined me at a local field along with about 20 spectators.  This rocket demo, along with the attending spectators and newspaper article lead to the formation of the Goddard Society Model Rocket, 4-H Aerospace Club (GSMRAC).  Founding members included myself, Arni Paye and Dave Dieter.

At the time, I was working closely with 4-H clubs of America, Hillsboro County.  I was the county group organizer for 4-H and our club was both a charter of the NAR and 4-H Clubs of America.

This lead to more teaching opportunities as well as club launches, competition, hobby shop retail demo's and other demo's around the state of New Hampshire for youth groups and other special occasions.  It wasn't long before we got word about MIT-CON (MIT Rocket Convention) and Pearl River MODROC in Pearl River, N.Y.  Without fail, each year the Goddard Society had representatives at these two model rocketry events.

Jim with his Maxi-Scout and Maxi-Astrocam on a Maxi-Port-a-Pad white_25x10.gif (830 bytes) Shortly after that I became deeply involved with Pearl River, becoming their anniversary kit designer, designing kits for attendees and getting them packaged with donated materials for distribution at the convention.  The FlisKits Praetor model rocket kit is one of many designs that were originated for Pearl River.  FlisKits will be introducing other Pearl River convention kits in the near future.  I, along with others from the Goddard Society also participated in the various seminars given at Pearl River, both teaching and learning.  It was at Pearl River where I got to meet Art Rose, Vern Estes, Howard Kune, Dick Nelson, Matt Steele and many other dedicated model rocketeers.   The picture at left shows me standing next to my Maxi-Astrocam (with working 35mm camera) sitting on a Maxi-Port-a-Pad, holding a Maxi-Scout.
Not long after discovering MIT-CON, we heard that they were ending their conventions.  It was then that Arni Paye and I put together an idea for a replacement convention.  Thus was born the New England Model Rocketry Convention (NEMROC) in 1983.  Our first convention was modest, to say the least.  At the time of planning, the Central Massachusetts Space Modeling Society (CMASS) was just forming, so we invited them to join us in our NEMROC efforts.  That first convention was shared with about 20 member of each club plus a few local rocketeers.  Day one was filled with seminars and kit-bashing.  Day two was a miserable attempt at flying in the rain.  But it was a beginning.
The years that followed saw NEMROC growing in size and popularity, with attendance exceeding 100 and guests arriving from as far away as Texas.  We had a wide array of guest speakers, vendors, movies and, starting with NEMROC #2, anniversary kits.  The FlisKits Corona is one such kit, and as with the Pearl River kits, all of the NEMROC kits will be available in the near future.

NEMROC continued until 1990 when members of both clubs became too busy to provide the kind of time needed to deliver a quality convention.  In the years since, I've been working closely with our local school district, bringing model rocketry to the class room.  At one point nearly the entire graduating class knew me as "Rocket Man".  I've presented model rocketry (and other rocket

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and space related topics) to K-12, youth groups, universities and conventions.  I've hosted demo launches for town/city events around southern New Hampshire and do my best to catch a sport fly with CMASS when my schedule allows.

Then, I had an idea.....


rockets! ROCKETS! lookit all the rockets!
"FlisKits make the best kits!"

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