Several times a year, rocketeers meet to launch high power rockets near Argonia, Kansas, an hour southwest of Wichita. The launches take place at the 40 acre KLOUDbusters launch site surrounded by wheat fields. The site has a standing permit for launches up to 25,000 feet and can get waivers for rockets traveling even higher. KLOUDBusters have hosted the annual Tripoli Rocketry Association national launch several times and hosted the inaugural Discovery Channel "Rocket Challenge" in July 2003.
The smallest, safest rockets launch from only about 50 feet away, but there are multiple launch pads further out for larger or more experimental rockets. Every so often the announcer calls for everyone to be on their feet when a new home built rocket is launched for the first time and might come the crowd's direction.
Often the smaller rockets are more interesting, since you can watch the entire flight and recovery. The most powerful ones rise out of sight and can only be tracked by radios. Sometimes 2-4 of the rockets are fired at once, and it is called it drag racing.
Some of the interesting rockets are little more than a couple of plastic rings with an engine in the middle - those don't have parachutes. One rocket was made from a small football, it had two engines - one to spin it and provide stability and one to propel it. Another rocket was made from Legos.
Launches take place one Saturday, every month of the year except May and June. Bigger 2 day events are conducted the 2nd weekends of April and November. AirFest on Labor Day weekend is a 4 day event, with the big experimental rockets going up on the final day. During AirFest, rockets launch steadily all day, perhaps 20-30 an hour. Some are small, but other rise well out of sight. Some of the most interesting ones are those that don't go right. List of upcoming events.
KLOUDbusters provide a public address system, 20x40 spectator tent, vendors, portajohns, and FM broadcasts of the Launch Control Officer's audio. I recommend bringing sunscreen, awning, cooler, and chairs.
Take Argonia Road south from Argonia 7 miles to Highway 44. Turn east one mile to Eden.
copyright 2004-2010 by Keith Stokes