Cineroc Adventures

The NARAM 42/2000 Cineroc Adventure

My Cineroc adventures began at 9:00 pm, July the 23rd, 2000.

After helping my neighbor Brad unload a bunch of
"guy junk" from a Ryder truck for an hour, he handed
me a small, slightly weathered box, saying,

“I know you fly rockets.  I found this the other day while
I was packing this stuff up.   I bought it when I was a kid
and never flew it because it was missing a part.
I never got around to writing Estes for a replacement
and it’s been sitting here ever since.”

 I looked at the box and my jaw hit the ground.

One of the "Holy Grails" of Model Rocketry,  the Estes Cineroc 8mm Movie Camera

The 2 weeks following was a journey that confirmed to me that:

    A.  The craft, science, fun, challenge and camaraderie of Model Rocketry is alive and well.

    B.  There is a Divine Being (that loves a good joke!)

(The Abridged Version)
(Verbose Version click here)

In retrospect, the chain of events that occurred to let me fly the Cineroc at NARAM 42 seem ridiculously impossible now.  When my across-the-street neighbor Brad George asked me to help him move some of his “guy junk” out of a Ryder truck, I had NO idea that single act of neighborliness would lead me to the experience of a lifetime.  He presented me with the Cineroc (virtually new in box) and I was speechless.  On the way to NARAM via Tucson, Steve Lubliner loaned me the missing pulley that I duplicated with RTV & Alumilite.  David Stribling sent me the 1972 MRN article so I could learn how to load it.  In Albuquerque, my best friend Minton Schooley got me the color film.  I arrived at Cañon City and on the first day of NARAM, I met the inventor of the Cineroc, Mike Dorffler and Mr. Estes himself!   Mike checked over the camera and pronounced it flight worthy, “Have you got an Omega?”  I didn’t, but all the signs were pointing to the words:  “Build it, and it will fly”.  So I did.  Thank God for Jim Zalewski's Rocket Plans Website!  I had the tubes glued together and finned by Sunday.  Mike D. was a tremendous help with fine tuning of the rocket and camera.  Looking like a rocket with leprosy (Elmer's Finishing Wood Filler) I started sanding first thing Sunday morning.  Vern Estes came to my tent mid morning to check on my progress.  Of course now, Chuck Barker (of C.R.A.S.H.) and I were pouring over my NASA Space Shuttle re-creation like a couple of 13-year-olds that had just spent 2 months allowance on the most challenging rocket they’d ever seen!  I look up and there's Vern.   DOH!!!!   I thought to myself, “MIKE YOU IDIOT! Vern Estes is here checking on the Omega Project AND YOU’RE NOT WORKING ON IT!”  I thought I’d die.   I got it all sanded by the end of Monday and sprayed it down with white primer that evening (Couldn't fly her naked now could I!) Standing in the streetlight outside the Abbey at 10pm, waiting for the paint to dry, I started thinking she needed a name.  I just didn't know what it was.

 Her maiden flight was Tuesday morning.  Here are some photos taken by Nadine Kinney.

I weighted the payload section to match the weight of the Cineroc (Thanks Dave Nauer!).  I picked up a 14" green chute from Debra Jo Falkner at Recovery Technologies, D12-5s from Pete Riddel (Space Modelling Solutions), and D12-0s from Chad Ring (Ring Rocketry).  Mike Dorffler came down with me to the Sport Launch Area to cheer me on and even caught the booster stage!  That's him in the lower center of the center picture.  She flew great.  Staged without a hitch and deployed both chutes.  I was thrilled!  I gathered the payload section and sustainer body and Mike handed me the first stage.  I was bubbling when I made my way over to Mr. Estes tent and showed him the Omega.  Everything was ready for the camera flight the following day.  Mr. Vern looked it over and he looked pleased.

Wednesday morning I was getting the Omega/Cineroc loaded and ready.  Nervous with prelaunch jitters, I checked everthing 2 or 3 times.  I think it was Jack Haggerty that pointed out I had put the D12-5 backwards in the upper stage (Yikes!).  Mario Anlue asked me if I had heard about Vern's announcement at the Tuesday night's Vendor's forum.  Vern was going to launch his 1970's Big Bertha at noon, His first launch in 11 years.  I made my way over to his tent and told him that I'd wait until his event was completed and then I'd launch the Cineroc from the Sport Launch Area.  I said, "Let's have Warren (Layfield) announce it and have everyone make their way to the Sport Area."  Vern asked me, "Have you got another launch pad?"  "Well, yes but I need a 3/16" rod."  "We can find one of those around, just bring it to my launch area and fly it after I fly the Big Bertha."  I was again, rendered dumbfounded.  I think I babbled something unintelligible and then managed to say, "Wow! Sure! That would be great!".   He sent me off to find Ken Mizoi and get a 3/16" rod.

I dug out my Porta-pad and put it together, I flipped the blast plate over to the unscorched side and Ken got me that rod.  I put it over at Vern's pad and went back to get the Omega/Cineroc.  My kids and I walked over to Vern's tent while Vern & Warren were hamming up the prep of the Big Bertha.  Right at noon they led us over to the launch pad.  The hamming continued while they loaded and clipped it up.  Everyone joined in on the 10 count and off it went.  Picture perfect flight and recovery.

Now, I absolutely swear that I did NOT plan what happened next.

I peeled off the masking tape on the tip of the rod (that someone had correctly placed there!) and slid the Omega on.  I carried it to the center and snapped on the clips.  I stood up and took a step towards the launch panel when I realized that I had to turn on the Cineroc, someone else would have to punch the button.  I had been fielding a few questions so I turned to Vern and asked him if he would launch it.  He would!  Another group 10 count.  10-9-8-7-6-5 (Camera switch on!) -4-3-2-1 Launch!  A big cheer arose when it staged and applause when the chutes deployed.

It took a LONG time for the camera to come down.  I tracked it but lost sight of the main body.  I recovered the camera and figured the loss of the main body was the tribute exacted by the Rocket Gods for such an amazing experience.  I put the Cineroc and booster away and had a great time with the kids flying sport rockets for the rest of the day.

Thursday morning, Mario Anlue told me that the main section had been turned in and I picked it up .  I had almost everybody that helped or contributed to the Omega/Cineroc Project sign my kitcard from the original Omega I had in 1979.  Mr. Vern was the last to sign it and I thanked him again for all of the encouragement and support.

It was time to packup and go home to San Diego.  It was a few hundred miles out of Albuquerque that I finally discovered the name of my Omega.


I still get a lump in my throat looking at the pictures and kitcard on my office wall.  Angel hangs right by them, newly decked in her blue & black colors.  If I wasn't a believer in Karma before, I think I've had some rather overwelming evidence.

I helped a neighbor, expecting nothing in return and, as a result, got to live out a childhood dream.  I met and talked awhile with my boyhood idol.  I even got to launch one of my rockets with him.  How cool is that?  I still haven't stopped smiling about it.

I doubt I ever will.

All the best,