Rocketry – NAPAS
Lifestyle photography of high-powered rocketry
NAPAS – North American Propulsion and Aerospace Society
My husband has his Level-3 certification from Tripoli for high-powered rocketry. It is a very exciting hobby, and believe me, these are not the same as model rockets. You work through the different levels of licences after writing exams, building, launching, and recovering your own rockets – each time with increasingly powerful motors. When we launch at events, we notify Transport Canada, or the FAA when in the United States, and obtain waivers giving us clearance to different altitudes. Pilots are notified with NOTAMS to avoid the area. At one of our events, we have a waiver of 15,000 feet MSL with call-in windows of 23,500 feet MSL. These rockets reach Mach 3 – not your model rocket.
As a spectator, it is thrilling to watch. You can’t help but to shout “WOW!” each time. As a photographer, it is a challenge! At those speeds right off the launch, they are very difficult to catch. These are not massive NASA rockets lumbering slowly off the launch pad. They are relatively small for the amount of power they are packing and really take off. I try to capture the smoke cloud in the instant before take-off, as well as following it up into the sky after launch. Sometimes things go awry including explosions that can also send a rocket sideways. I’m always looking through my lens, but with an ear paying attention to the safety alarm.