Chance of a Lifetime
So many of us have fond memories of our childhood. As I look back, I can remember building rockets in the basement of our house. There were no laws or organizations to belong to. I remember disassembling fireworks trying to make rocket motors and combining various mixtures of zinc and sulfur that would lift my rocket high into the sky. I kept this activity a secret from my parents, as you can imagine. Thank God neither me, nor any of my friends were ever hurt while doing this dangerous activity. I have always been attracted to speed, explosives and danger. that is why I chose to be a professional stuntman and to develop special effects for the film industry. This story reflects my “Chance of a Lifetime”.
I received a film script and storyboard in the mail from Rick Perry, a special effects coordinator working on a film that reminded me of my favorite childhood pastime. I started reading the script and I couldn’t stop. After I finished, I excitedly called Joey D, the special effects foreman working on the film, and told him that I would build anything that he needed for the project.
Rick had seen my High Power Rocketry kit catalog on the Internet and said that he wanted me to build a rocket similar to my Explorer 7 kit. I had previously private labeled this design for Theta Company and they sold it as science class experiments for prep schools and universities. The Explorr 7 measures 4″ in diameter and 79″ tall. For the film he wanted larger fins and a big rocket nozzle hanging off the back end. The nozzle is an integral part of the storyline. I made a number of prototypes and showed them to the Films director, Joe Johnston then to Homer Hickman Jr., whose life story this film is based upon. They gave me the final approval to build 13 rockets for the film.
The director was very happy with the outcome and this shot is the highlight of the film. I was told this film had a 20 million dollar budget. October Sky is the triumphant true story of Homer Hickman Jr, a high school student in rural West Virginia, who seemed destined to repeat his father’s harsh life in the coal mines until he turned his attention to the skies. At odds with his father, determined to better himself and inspired by the dawn of the Space Age, he embarks on a qui toxic mission that changes his life forever.
Go see October Sky with your friends and family. If you don’t get a chance to see it in theaters, I recommend that you rent it when it’s released. This film will spark a lot of interest in our hobby and all of us “Rocket Boys” and “Rocket Girls” will benefit from it.