Providence Journal – Taking their hobby to great heights

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Providence Journal – By Paul Edward Parker 
Journal Staff Writer Posted Jul. 11, 2015

SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — Ray DiPaola scans the skies above turf farm fields near the University of Rhode Island, searching for airplanes.

He opens a red safety cover on a control panel and flips the arming switch to on. With a finger on the red launch button, he counts down, “Five, four, three, two, one.” With a loud woosh, a rocket built of cardboard tubes and balsa wood streaks toward the clear blue sky.

DiPaola is president of the Rhode Island Model Rocket Association and Saturday was the club’s monthly rocket launch event at Peckham Farm, across Route 138 from the URI campus.

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The Rhode Island club, an affiliate of the National Association of Rocketry, plans to hold launch events monthly, as long as weather allows access to the turf fields. The launches are open to the public, who can watch for free or launch their own rockets for a $15 fee.

The launches are coordinated with air-traffic-control officials at T.F. Green Airport. The club has permission to send rockets to altitudes of 1,500 feet on the days of launches without further notice. They can fly higher — up to 5,000 feet — if they contact the tower at Green just before the launch. “It’s our responsibility to stay away from all other flight traffic,” DiPaola says.

People are drawn to model rocketry for different reasons, says the Pawcatuck, Conn., resident. “The thing for most people in this hobby, the common thread is they like to make stuff.”
The amateur rocketeers also hope to involve children in the hobby, he says. “It’s a great way to get kids interested in science, technology.”

By Paul Edward Parker 
Journal Staff Writer Posted Jul. 11, 2015
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On Twitter: @projopaul

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