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Larry Brand
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How long have you been into Sport Rocketry?
"I flew Estes rockets back about 1969-70 with my brothers, but I really got into sport rocketry seriously in 1999-2000, when I started to mentor school kids, and it was something they wanted to do. Before that, I hadn't realized the hobby had grown beyond Estes-type kits." - 08/2006

What organizations are you a member of?
"Rocketry-related? Just NAR and my local chapter (DART, #317) here in San Diego. Non-rocketry -- a whole bunch of scientific societies related to my profession, which I won't bore you with. Other aviation-related -- I am a long term member of AMA, although I don't fly R/C planes anymore, I am getting back into it, R/C rocket gliders. I am a 20+ year member of the Soaring Society of America (SSA)."

What level are you certified to?
"Certified to NAR Level 2. I designed and scratch built both my L1 and L2 cert ships, which I think NAR doesn't particularly recommend. But that's what's fun for me in the hobby-sport. I rarely buy kits, except to cannibalize the parts."

What is your all time favorite rocket?
"Without doubt, my favorite rocket is one I have never seen in the flesh, the Arizona SSS club's Big Dumb Rocket, a 7.5" tubefin for twin J-power. It has inspired me to concentrate almost entirely on tubefin designs. I have built many versions of this basic BDR design; my favorites are 'Auracle' (a tubefinnized LOC Aura) and 'Sardonyx' (tubefinnized LOC Onyx, presented in SPORT ROCKETRY in winter 2006). "

Tell me an interesting rocket related experience?
"I recently built a minimum-diameter tubefin for J-power. I was worried about losing it, so to be sure I could track it, I painted it electric lime green, and equipped it with a gaudy royal purple parachute. I figured that chute would be easy to spot in the SoCal desert where I fly. Launch day arrives, beautiful boost on the J330. I manage to get a visual track on the descent, and the wind takes it about a mile away, but I get a good fix (I thought) on the touch-down point. Drive out on heading in my Explorer -- no rocket in sight, anywhere. I pull out my binoculars and start scanning. Sure enough, I spot a patch of royal purple, sitting next to some brush, about 500 yards further out than I had expected. Not drivable, so I leave the vehicle and hike out there, congratulating myself on my wise choice of parachute color. I arrive at my rocket, and...it's not my rocket, its an identical shade, royal purple crushed- velvet sofa, just sitting in the middle of the desert!! I can't believe it. I scan back with my binoculars, and spot another patch of royal purple, sitting 50 feet behind my car. It was my rocket. Geez, what a day that was. Weird."

What's your favorite aspect of the hobby?
"I like scratch building and designing, mostly tubefin rockets for G-H-I-J power. I like experimenting with new things. I have no formal training at this, and I'm not really that skilled of a model builder. I'm a retired research biochemist, and that's where this comes from. On the rare occasions that I buy kits, the first thing I do is to throw away the instructions. You probably know the type. I used to do the same thing when I flew R/C planes years ago. I like doing things my own way. Sometimes, this involves first trying every possible combination of 'wrong'."

Do you have any other hobbies?
"Hah! Other hobbies? Way too many 'other' hobbies! I'm a full-scale sailplane pilot. All kinds of boating, sailboats, canoeing, kayaking with my family. I scuba dive. Like to fish in the ocean as often as I can. I'm a lifelong rock collector, specialize in agates. I still try keep active in my science profession (officially a hobby, since I retired from Procter & Gamble in the '95), I am involved part-time in research related to diabetes and long-term memory."

What developments would you like to see in sport rocketry?
"I am very interested in seeing how sport rocketry can be made more appealing to young people, so it can grow. It isn't growing now, even in spite of the thousands of kids introduced to rocketry by TARC. It's a tiny hobby-sport, only about 5000 enthusiasts nationwide. Part of this is just the natural history of boys, they discover cars and girls, go off to college or whatever, and rockets get put on the shelf. But there's more to it than that -- kids can solo an airplane at 14, they can get a license to fly and drive at 16. Twelve-year olds can scuba dive anywhere, ski mountains, surf monster waves. Kids 9 and 10 years old have become world-class R/C plane competitors, beating adults. Kids can shoot deer, operate farm equipment and jet skis and motorboats and yachts. A car with a V-8 engine has the power of a Level 3 rocket, and more. But high- power rocketry, or even operate 'F'-motors? You have to be an 'adult'. Its just crazy. We have to fix this or the post-Estes level of sport rocketry will never grow. The heck of it is that 'rocket scientist' resonates with young people as something they greatly admire -- but then society throws up this irrational roadblock, and they go on to other things. Fourteen year olds should be free to participate as adults in operating High-Power rockets, just as they can solo full-scale airplanes at 14 without 'adult supervision'."

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