Greetings from The Aero Experience Team


The Aero Experience is a celebration of Midwest aviation and aerospace achievement. We invite you to join us as we explore the treasures of Midwest aviation through first-hand experiences. Our contributors take turns flying lead, and we are always looking for new destinations. Check in with The Aero Experience frequently to see where we will land today, and then go out and have your own aero experiences!

Blue skies,

Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil and Fred Harl - The Aero Experience Team

Friday, May 7, 2021

St. Louis Rocketry Association Celebrates Freedom 7 Mercury Space Flight 60th Anniversary with Commemorative Launch Event

By Carmelo Turdo and Mark Nankivil
The St. Louis Rocketry Association celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Freedom 7 Mercury spacecraft mission with a commemorative launch event of their own last Saturday at Buder Park in St. Louis County. Association members gathered with family, friends and guests to observe the mass launch of model Mercury Redstone rockets in honor of the first American in space, Alan Shepard, and the NASA and industry team that made the first U.S. manned space launch possible on May 5, 1961. Four Mercury Redstone model rockets were launched in succession, with two more launched shortly thereafter.

Five of the Mercury Redstones were the Estes advanced skill level kits while Association President Dave Kovar's was the Centuri Redstone that he has launched reliably over 30 times. Five rockets were poised for launch on the main pad while another was readied on a separate launcher. A group photo was taken of the member builders before the launch. 

(L-R) Don Hanson, Dave Kovar, Mike Ikemeyer,
Paul Graf, Doug Probst, and Glen Arens

"We are celebrating the sixtieth anniversary of Alan Shepard's launch back on May fifth, 1961," Dave Kovar, President of the St. Louis Rocketry Association, announced prior to the launch. "Some of the members of the club have provided rockets for us. And so to make this event what it needs to be, I actually have an audio that I'll be playing that has the actual countdown - Alan Shepard is on there and the CAPCOM as well." 

Anticipation for the mass launch grew as the gathering crowd listened intently at the vintage recording of the countdown and launch of Freedom 7. The narrative was similar to this NASA film showing a brief look at the launch and recovery cycle of the first Mercury mission.

Then, at 10:14 A.M., the countdown began and the launch signal given. Four of the Mercury Redstone rockets launched together, landing in relatively close proximity to each other downrange to the right following the light prevailing breeze. The other Mercury Redstones were launched just minutes later.

A wide variety of rockets were launched throughout the morning, totaling fifty-two in all. The Buder Park rocket range is shared with the Greater St. Louis Model Association RC aircraft flying field and is surrounded by trees, presenting challenges to airspace use and rocket recovery under strong wind conditions. Here we show some of the other rocket launches following the Mercury Redstone commemoration.

The St. Louis Rocketry Association provides opportunities for members to expand their enjoyment of this great hobby. One example is the prize given for the Mercury Redstone rocket that landed the closest to a predetermined point - yes the prize was another Estes Mercury Redstone kit going to member Doug Probst! Also, a raffle prize was awarded to Patty Howard - an Estes rocket and craft tool kits. The Association is also featured in Rockets of High Power fundraising calendar, proceeds from which go toward self-funding member activities. 

The brief video below gives an overview of the Freedom 7 commemorative launch event:

The Aero Experience thanks the St. Louis Rocketry Association and all who contributed to making this a successful Freedom 7 commemorative launch event. Check their website link above for future event and membership information.

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