The Mojave Desert has been associated with fast flying projectiles for a long time, they seem to go together well, like a hamburger and fries. One of the best known examples of this partnership is at Edwards Air Force Base, it is well known as a hotbed of rocket, jet and test pilot history. As many people know this is the spot where the sound barrier was broke for the first time by pilot Chuck Yeager in 1947. A few dozen miles away from Edwards is Lucerne Dry Lake. Hollywood has given Lucerne lots of attention in the movies, one of the first movies filmed there was the one that “rocketed” John Wayne to stardom in 1939, “Stagecoach”. Today at this exact Dry Lake there is another kind of rocketing going on that is not related to John Wayne or Hollywood, it is the hobby that is called model rocketry.
My first trip to a model rocketry weekend at the Lake Bed was eye opening, this activity is not for the feint of heart. Showing up at a launch event is free and you can watch people launch rockets of every shape, size and price. Rockets are launched constantly all day long, there is never a dull moment. Boy Scout troops, individuals and families all take part in this great hobby and in most cases passion.
There are three levels of rocket certification, each allowing the user to fly successively larger motors.
Level 1 can use motors H, I.
Level 2 can use motors J, K, L.
Level 3 can use motors M, N, O and beyond.
This is an affordable hobby at the entry level but more advanced launches can cost $1,000.00 or more. Some high powered, multi stage rockets can go over 5 miles high and require FAA clearance, some can even break the sound barrier. Other rockets are GPS tracked and even take pictures or video of the launch from the perspective of the rocket.
This is a great place for family fun, people even bring their pets. There vendors that sell food, souvenir and rocket supplies. People are camping, riding ATV’s, flying remote control model airplanes and night launches are sometimes organized. Some participants drive hundreds of miles to launch their rockets. The best part is that its all FREE to watch, just bring a chair, water, food and enjoy your day under the beautiful Mojave sky.
For more information and the schedule of events check out the Rocketry Organization of California at this link:
I will see you soon at Lucerne Dry Lake.
Take It Easy – Mojave