The Journeyman was built by Joe Jones in the summer of
1969 and launched once. I've seen the above picture, taken by
Joe, off and on over the following 45 years. There is a copy in the ARO
log book and of course Joe had a copy, which is where my copy came from.
Back then we developed and printed our own film.
The above photo was taken at Simon's Recreation Center (the "Rec") in the West
Oak Lane section of Philadelphia.
The ARO, which is short for
"Aerodynamics Research Organization," was created in April of 1968
in Joe's basement with
Joe as the president and Jimmy Nolen and myself as secretaries. There
were a few other loose members, namely Jeff Sidewater, Mike Kaplin,
Clifford Eike and a kid on Joe's street named Ronnie Fisher.
Our first launch
was on April 10th, 1968. We were in 8th grade. April 10, 1968 was
a Wednesday, so we were on Easter vacation. It was 65 degrees out
and we launched for 1/2 hour, from 12:20PM to 12:50PM. We launched the
Alpha, Arcas, Skyhook and the Gyroc, all of which belonged to Joe.
When Jimmy and I met Joe in
1968 he was already president of the
West Oak Lane Rocket Launching Society; "W.O.L.R.L.S," pronounced "walrus." At
that time he was the only one with any rockets so it was natural he was
president of the new club. As a matter of fact, Jimmy and I didn't know
anything about rockets till Joe showed us. Joe also showed us how to
make block busters and cherry bombs, taught us how to develop film and
make prints, and was the first one of us to have a CB radio, and then a
Ham radio station.
I had seen these ads in the back of Popular Science, but never
you could actually build a rocket at home. Rockets were, like,
tall and we lived in a row house in Philadelphia.
I sent an order to Estes Industries the very day of the first launch.
Here it is dated April 10, 1968! Click on it to see full size.
(Will open in a new tab or window.)
We had 14 launchings in 1968, including one on April 26th where
the only rocket launched was the Streak I ordered on April 10th.
Photographs from our 1968 year are rare, as I didn't have a
camera and Joe lost a lot of stuff when his house was flooded in
2000. The pictures below are from January 17, 1969.
Joe preps the Big Bertha at
Simon's Recreation Center.
The Big Bertha.
In this colorized B&W photo, Jimmy Nolen is third
from the left. Yours truly is at far right.
Our fleet in April of 1968. All but a few belong to Joe.
(Click to enlarge)
Here is the "Streak" I ordered on April 10, 1968,
painted metallic blue with metallic green fins and nosecone. It was
launched on April 26th but I never got to see it. Though I had
been to my first launch just two weeks before, the rockets were
relatively large and the engines used were relatively small. Not
having much money, I selected the Streak because it was the
cheapest rocket in the catalog. I didn't realize it was also the
lightest, and used for altitude contests.
Maybe it was because
I was standing so close to the pad, or maybe because I blinked, when the Streak took off
it seemed to vanish in a puff of smoke. I mean it literally just
vanished. I remember looking at the pad and wondering what had
happened, as my rocket that I had so carefully assembled
and painted had turned into smoke. It took me two whole seconds
to realize it was in the air, but when I looked up I didn't see
anything up there. Neither did anybody else! Well, it had to
come down in a minute, right? We searched the field and never
found it. It really had vanished.
1968 catalog photo of the Streak. The defining characteristic
was that it was the cheapest rocket in the catalog.
Years later when we were
in our 20s one of the biggest contributing members to the ARO was a guy named Bob Priess, nicknamed "Stripes."
Bob supplied us with something called "denominations of currency" and bankrolled our
rocket adventures. He
was also an expert at RC model plane construction. Bob and I both won the Estes "Design of the
Month" contest and we each used our winnings to purchase the mother of all kits,
the Saturn V.
April 10th is the official
anniversary of the ARO. Joe, Cliff, Bob and I are still around, 53
years later (as of 2021). Thanks to the Internet we stay in touch. Jim
has passed away.
replica of the Journeyman
I recently got the urge to recreate the Journeyman and I
wanted it to be the same size as the original. Through a few emails with
Joe I learned it was built from scratch from a
paper towel tube, a tube from some Christmas wrapping paper, engine
mailing tubes*, etc. It had a home made nose cone. Everything was centered with glue soaked paper
towels. It was painted metallic green and silver with a flat black nose
cone. It weighed exactly one pound with engines.
* Engine mailing tubes were very hard, blue colored tubes
that Estes Industries shipped their engines in.
These two are from 1969 and are exactly the same as the ones in
the original Journeyman. A quarter is shown for size comparison.