So, you want to fly model rockets, where do you begin?
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DO I NEED A LICENSE?
You do not require any permits or licenses to fly a model rocket.
There are no age restrictions with respect to flying model rockets. But for younger children, it is often seen as an activity requiring adult supervision, and you must be 12 years of age and older to purchase model rocket engines.
You can fly a model rocket from any property provided you have the permission of the landowner and you must fly your rocket in such a way as "to not present a hazard to aviation". The latter words are a direct quote from the Canadian Aviation Regulations text concerning model rockets.
As a responsible model rocket flyer, you should always follow the Model Rocket Safety Code.
DO I NEED A MEMBERSHIP?
The flying of model rockets from public property (Parks) is a little more involved. While the space may be seen as "public" it is legally considered owned by the municipality in which it is found. As such one needs to be aware of local by-laws or other regulations.
Parks can be great places to fly model rockets, but such an activity is best pursued in conjunction with a local organization or club that has made arrangements with the governing bodies for such an activity.
As responsible rocket flyers we strongly encourage membership in the MRG. Check out our "Join the MRG" link.
HOW DO I GET STARTED?
To fly a Model Rocket you need, of course, a Model Rocket; but you also need Model Rocket engines and a launch system to launch the rocket.
Model Rockets are available at hobby and toy stores and are usually sold as kits or in a Ready-To-Fly (RTF) form. The kits are generally classified by a numeric 1 through 4 "Skill Level". Depending on your proficiency or experience with model building, a skill level 1 kit can be built in as little as ½ hour or as long as a leisurely evening.
Recommendation: For your first kit or two stick with Skill Level 1 or 2 rockets. RTF rockets are convenient, but kit building is NOT difficult and there's an extra satisfaction of sending skyward a rocket you've built with your own hands.
Model Rocket Engines
Model Rockets fly on commercially made engines which burn a combustible propellant, usually black powder. These are the consumables of the hobby; once used they are discarded. Most Model Rocket engines are sold in packs of 3 or 4, and each flight requires a fresh engine. Model Rocket engines come in different impulses (think power) and are ranked by an alphabetic system. Model Rocket engines range in impulse from A to G. Most common Model Rockets fly on A, B, C or D engines.
To launch your rocket, you need a battery powered, safety-keyed, electric launch controller to ignite the engine and a launch pad with a launch rod to direct the rocket safely during the first few fractions of a second of the rockets flight.
Recommendation: While launch controller and launch pads/rods can be purchased individually; invest in an all-inclusive starter set which usually comes with a rocket, launch controller and launch pad. Usually these starter packages offer you a 30% to 50% savings over purchasing all items separately.
ROCKETRY AS A HOBBY
Model Rocketry as a hobby goes beyond the launching and retrieving of simple commercial "3 fins and a nosecone" rockets.
Commercial kits fly alongside scratch home-builds, and designs run the gambit from simple rockets to finely crafted scale replicas, to "Odd-Rocs" (where your imagination is the limit). From models small enough to sit comfortably in the palm of your hand to those that stretch meters long. Model rockets may be single-staged or multi-staged and may streak to the sky on the thrust of a single engine, or clustered engines of 2, 3 or more Rockets may descend under parachute, streamer, glide like an aircraft or under spinning helicopter rotors.
Contests exist and contestants compete to see which rocket flies highest, stays up longest, or lands on target. Uncooked eggs are lofted to see if the contestant can ensure their prized payload returns intact and undamaged.
Miniaturization of electronic components allows rockets to fly onboard altimeters, still and digital video.
The simple Model Rocket has grown up. Engines greater than impulse Class G are available. Bigger engines launch bigger rockets and have spawned a niche called High Power Rocketry.
While the hobby has retained its basic roots, it has grown with the times.
JOIN A CLUB
In both Canada and the US, national organizations (with local affiliates) promote the safe and enjoyable pursuit of Model and High Power Rocketry.
Joining a local club, in addition to the camaraderie and experience of fellow enthusiasts, affords access to flying fields, club launch equipment and scheduled launches. If you are in Manitoba then you are encouraged to join the Manitoba Rocketry Group!
Thousands, of all ages, pursue rocketry as a hobby.