And the rockets' red glare ... and fly high at Jefferson fair

August 23, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

LEETOWN, W.Va. - Jenny Eaton and her group gave new meaning to the word recycling Monday at the Jefferson County Fair.

Most 2-liter soda bottles head to the plastics recycling bin, but in Eaton's case, they become fine rockets.

Fifteen youths gathered in an open field at the fairgrounds Monday afternoon to see who had the best traveling model.

The rockets are made by attaching fins to the sides of the bottles.

After the rockets are crafted, they are filled partially with water. Using an air compressor, air is forced into the remaining space in the bottle.

The air is held in the bottle by a specially designed launching pad. When it's time for liftoff, the kids stomp on a level that releases the rocket.


"It's like a nice, fun physics thing to do," said Eaton, who was helping to organize the second annual rocket launch at the fairgrounds along Leetown Pike.

When it comes to decoration, about anything goes.

Some were adorned with feathers, while others took on a more traditional spaceship appearance.

Franco Posa, 11, likes the Boston Red Sox, so his rocket bore the name of his favorite baseball team.

The capsule had plenty of fins and a good dose of duct tape to keep them attached.

The creation earned Pose a first-place award in appearance.

But the main objective is seeing whose rocket can travel the farthest.

That award went to Wes Turley and his 4-year-old son, Mathew.

Turley and his son crafted a rocket out of a Sterling ginger ale bottle and it sailed 215 feet in competition.

Mathew Turley was quiet and reserved about his victory.

"He's not real chatty right now. He wants to see the chickens," his father said.

So what was the magic in the Turley team?

As it turns out, Wes Turley is retired from the Air Force and once did missile maintenance.

"It helps a little bit," Turley said.

It turned out to be a perfect activity for a hot summer afternoon.

When the rockets were launched, they sprayed a fine mist over the crowd.

Some rockets shot off in sharp angles, while other rockets experienced liftoff problems at the launching pad.

Some shot gloriously into the sky, but too much height is not necessarily a good thing, Eaton said.

"If you get too much height, you lose your distance," Eaton said.

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