It's been a busy few months since the last Tripoli Report, during which period a
number of milestones for TRA have been achieved. We also have a new director
joining us as of the 2005 TRA Board of Directors election. Let's take a chronological
look at the new developments: |
LDRS 24 - Lethbridge, Alberta Canada
As just about everyone knows, this year's LDRS was the very first to be held outside the United States. Many were the concerns that were expressed before the event, such worries being primarily focused on US/Canada border issues. It turned out that overall, real problems were few, mostly owing to a great deal of up-front work done by LDRS 24 launch organizer Max Baines. The event itself was first-class, extremely well-run and a lot of fun. The Roc Lake site is one of the finest HP launch sites anywhere, and LDRS attendees appreciated the wide open spaces with hardly a tree in sight. Another consideration I hadn't thought about ahead of time was the long summer days at the higher latitudes of this part of the world. It was a novel experience for me personally to witness daylight until after 10 PM, and to be able to see some exceptional flying conditions from 7 PM until 9 PM. A hearty "well done" to our Canadian colleagues. Check out the LDRS 24 website to see all those who made this fine event happen:
2005 TRA Board of Directors Election
This year's election presented some problems and controversy. Due to a litany of unexpected problems in creating the new "annualized" election-issue Tripoli Report the issue did not come out as early as planned, and the election period had to be extended until August 15 to ensure ballots could be returned in time. This has underlined the desirability of enabling electronic balloting, especially in view of the increasingly international nature of the modern TRA. As you will see elsewhere in this issue, TRA IT Committee Chairman David Wilkins is working assiduously on making this happen, coordinating his efforts with Election Committee Chairman Guy Soucy. We are hopeful that the 2006 election will be our first in which electronic balloting will be activated.
Although there was no lack of controversy on the TRA list.serve forum over the late TR/election ballot problem, the extension of the deadline meant that our ballot return rate was commensurate with previous years.... which is to say it's still rather weak. It will be very interesting to see if we gain a better rate of return once members can cast an electronic ballot.
In terms of election results, please refer to Guy Soucy's election report, elsewhere in this issue for the details. I will confine my remarks to these: 1) My personal thanks to all who supported my candidacy for another term, 2) Welcome to Darren Wright as a new TRA Director, 3) Thanks to all who did cast their vote in this election, 4) Thanks to outgoing director Dick Embry, who will be working with the TRA Board in the upcoming months to support the transition of responsibilities he held.
A decision was made this July by the TRA Board of Directors to sever the longstanding relationship between TRA and HPR magazine (covered in more detail in the TRA BoD minutes in this issue). This was a very difficult decision in many respects. HPR magazine at its best is a fine publication, and has played a key role in many current rocketeers becoming interested in Tripoli and HP rocketry. However, the problems of production over the past several years have not gone away, and despite several "HPR magazine recovery plans" jointly forged between the HPR publisher Bruce Kelly and the Board, the production goals of the magazine were never able to be consistently maintained every year. The "magazine issue" had become difficult and divisive, and it was becoming more and more clear that the majority of the membership favored a separation. When, after many years of lacking one, a contract was written between TRA and HPR magazine to explicitly define responsibilities and expectations, and in less than a year HPR magazine was in default of contractual production terms, there was really no longer any choice.
As one can imagine, this was very bitter news for Bruce Kelly, our former president for many years and a man whose contributions to Tripoli and HP rocketry must never be overlooked. It was especially tough for those of us who regard Bruce as a friend, and hold him in high esteem for his positive contributions. When we reflect on all this, I would urge members to understand this, and give Bruce the credit he is due, rather than just upbraid him for the difficult later years of the TRA/HPR relationship.
Where do we go from here? The TRA Board feels that the organization should have a relationship with a successor to HPR magazine, and several individuals have communicated their interest in providing such a publication. Accordingly, the Board is developing the requirements for a new magazine, and will communicate these to interested parties.
Members may recall that earlier this year, the ATF tried, and failed, to have the appeal to count one (APCP as an explosive) of our litigation dismissed by the US Circuit Court (court of appeals). Therefore, the court will be hearing our case, and this past June, communicated their schedule of dates for the documentation that the parties are to present to the court. Consistent with that schedule, we are now getting close to the goal of having our appeal fully pled. TRA/NAR legal counsel has filed our complete opening brief, and the ATF are due to file their response at this publication goes to press. The TRA/NAR document can be seen on the TRA website at:
The next steps will be the parties' further responses to these filings, with all briefs being due to the court of appeals by mid-October. After that, a date will be scheduled by the court for oral arguments, and this will likely be sometime in November or December. Following that event, we can expect a ruling. Obviously, we cannot say with any real accuracy how long it may take the court to rule on our appeal, but in general, it is expected that it will be much more expeditious than the original rulings by the US District Court.
NAR President Mark Bundick and I will be communicating a joint statement on legal status in the very near future (following the publication of the ATF response to our opening brief). It's been a very long and tough road, and I thank all who have supported our effort to fight for freedom from illegal regulation.
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