This is the beginning… and then there was light!

This was a tech session that we feel was the real start of the annual Space City Pantera Pig Roast!

January 2005 SCPOCA Tech Session


SCP had an impromptu tech and rocket launching session Saturday January 8, 2005 at Gray Gregory's shop in Pattison. Gray Gregory, John Taphorn, Jim Narum, Doug Lockin, and David Bell attended, along with visiting POCA Profiles editor Mike Drew.

John Taphorn worked most of the day tweaking the jetting on his DiVinci built Holley carburetor, though with limited success.

David Bell suspended his 'drive-to-work-beater' T-Bird on Gray's overhead rack and witnessed the miraculous disappearance of an annoying sharp metal banging noise from somewhere in the suspension. Could this be the first recorded instance of Mike Drew (the Drewsaster) Ju-Ju actually healing instead of destroying a car? Only time will tell.

Doug Lockin intended to replace the exhaust manifold gaskets on his Pantera but unfortunately we were having such a great time doing other stuff, we never got to it (sorry Doug).

For our lunchtime feast, Gray Gregory provided the hamburger and sausage meat, John Taphorn brought the condiments (BAKED potato chips?) and sodas, and Jim Narum (the Burger King) hand hammered the patties. Unfortunately, though the attendees had altruistic intentions, no food scraps remained for pet dogs or starving tsunami victims.

After lunch, the entire crew took a break from car wrenching and assembled at the official Space City Panteras command center (between cow patties on Gray's main ranch drive) for an extensive series of tests of unmanned, rocket powered launch vehicles.

John Taphorn brought his incredible pink, 3-stage monster rocket and a second smaller single stage model equipped with a see-though passenger module.

Dave Bell had his daughter's basic but reliable single stager and the launch equipment.

There was an abundant supply of 'B', 'C', and 'D' solid fuel rocket engines for power.

Mike Drew volunteered to pilot the chase vehicle (a Polaris 4-wheeler) which he intentionally drove into the lake to successfully salvage the upper stage of JT's missile following an off-target landing. Jim Narum and Doug Lockin (with three mid-air parachute saves) provided logistics and close-in ground support.

The Bell Institute red rocket made multiple lauches and re-entries with consistently soft, parachute-assisted landings.

JT's single stage passenger module ended up with inconclusive test results as no suitable passengers such as lizards or grasshoppers could be located (either due to cold weather or advance notice) and fire ants had been previously evaluated. The JT monster rocket was spectacular, reaching incredible velocity on several high altitude flights. Innovative modifications reminiscent of Apollo 13 were developed and applied by the crew to keep this vehicle in action following the water landing to correct a bent and slightly soggy main tube.

Eventually, however, the pink monster succumbed to a Challenger-like disintegration of the first and second stage booster sections. Luckily, no injuries were sustained by any of the ground crew. A redesign of the power and guidance systems appear to be required (where is John Haas when you need him?).

Following a full day of energetic activities, Gray Gregory, Mike Drew, John Taphorn and David Bell gathered for a down-home dinner at Repkas (which is a combination restaurant, convenience store, and pool hall and is truly in the exact center of nowhere) to review the days events. The Repkas' staff finally made us leave at 10:30 pm and as far as I know everyone made it home OK.

Plan to join us next time. Bring your helmet and fire suit.