TRA BoD Election - 2006
Elsewhere in this issue, the results of what became a very close election for the TRA Board of Directors are detailed in Election Committee Chairman Guy Soucy's report. This election saw an exceptionally large number of fine, qualified candidates contending for three director positions, and this doubtless was a factor in the results. My thanks to all who ran, or re-ran, for the TRA BoD. I have stated many times that lining yourself up for such duty is not to be taken lightly - this volunteer board works hard for the membership, and puts in significant hours of work. For those who did not gain a seat this time, please don't be discouraged, and consider trying again in the future.
As the election report will reveal, both Vice President Pat Gordzelik, and Secretary Bob Schoner are retaining their director seats, and were re-elected by the Board for another year at their official positions. Bruce Lee was re-elected as our Treasurer, and the Board also decided to keep me in the President's seat for another year. Dick Embry, our former TRA President, has been elected back to the Board as well. Dick's years of experience and expertise are welcomed and will be invaluable to the organization, as they have been in the past.
As of this election, Chuck Rogers will depart from the Board. TRA members owe Chuck a tremendous 'thank you' for all that he has done for our organization. Chuck was the longest serving BoD member, having been a director for 19 years. Chuck, one of Tripoli's few lifetime members, was also our TRA President for five years prior to Bruce Kelly, a crucial period of growth for the organization. During his time as president, Chuck's steady, professional leadership was an important factor in ensuring the correct moves were made. Among his accomplishments was a resolution to a difficult relationship we had with NAR, laying the groundwork for the effective partnership we enjoy today. Thanks, Chuck for all the hard work and dedication.
I look forward to working for another year with our BoD, and am confident we will continue to lead TRA into a better and more secure future.
Since the last update, our legal case has been moving ahead expeditiously, following our win in the appellate court on the core issue of ATF regulating APCP as an explosive. As most know by now, the appellate court rejected the (weak) ATF arguments justifying their position on why APCP should be on the explosives list. The court remanded the case to the agency for reconsideration of their position on this issue, coupled with a directive on how, should they desire to continue to regulate the propellant, they must justify such a decision. In short, they must prove APCP is an explosive, based on science and burn rates. Administration of this remand goes back to the Federal District Court and Judge Reggie Walton, who wasted no time in calling the parties to a hearing to have ATF disclose their plans/timeframe for the actions they were directed to take by the appellate court. Please refer to the joint TRA/NAR statements that follow, to see what has transpired in this case since the appellate court opinion was issued.
The next significant events will take place with our upcoming hearing on October 17, 2006. At that time, the ATF will be required to discuss their test data (which is to be presented to the court one week prior to the hearing), and what decisions they will choose as a result. As you will see in the joint statements, TRA/NAR and our legal team are also introducing into the court record our own data, including accepted industry APCP burn rates and comparative "common material" burn rate data. It is our belief that ATF cannot legitimately show APCP burn rate results that come anywhere near the generally accepted rates for deflagration/explosion.
It is apparent that things are reaching the critical point now, and the next several months should see this issue resolved, at long last. The TRA & NAR leadership are very positive and encouraged by the direction our case has taken, and are "cautiously optimistic" that we will see a favorable final outcome in our near future.
My thanks to all who have supported our effort with ideas, information, and financial donations. Please consider donating to the legal fund if you can, as we navigate through what we hope will be the last stages of this long and hard effort. Legal fund donations can be made via the TRA website at:
In our last issue, I announced the new affiliated magazine to advance TRA and high-power rocketry. "Rockets" magazine is the product of Bob Utley and Neil McGilvray of Liberty Launch Systems (LLS), and these gentlemen have worked hard to put out a quality publication. At the time of writing, "Rockets" has produced three very fine issues. Full details can be found at:
Bob and Neil have reported that while their subscriber base is growing, the expectation is that they would have seen a stronger response so far. I really hope that those members who were upset and frustrated by the production troubles of the last magazine will be supportive and subscribe to "Rockets" now. And anyone "on the fence" about supporting a new magazine should really get off that fence and get behind "Rockets." The magazine needs and deserves TRA members to give it a chance. If you haven't done so yet, please click the link to subscribe to "Rockets" today!
Our 25th LDRS
At the LDRS 25 members' dinner in Amarillo, I offered some observances on how far we have come in those 25 years since LDRS 1. First, I noted that there were only two Tripoli members in attendance who had also attended the initial LDRS - Curt Hughes (TRA #00006, and member of the original Tripoli Board of Directors) and me. I reminded Curt of how we had missed the group picture at LDRS 1 because we were out in a field of very tall corn, searching for his "Mongrel." This rocket had been awarded "most impressive flight" at the event, flying as it did on a cluster of four D-motors and one H-motor (!). Yes, it's been a while since this now-innocent level of total impulse would impress an entire LDRS.
But motors aren't the only things that have changed. Of course, we have grown enormously in the technology we utilize, from motors to construction materials to electronics. We have also grown in our own knowledge and capabilities. Those of us at LDRS 1 weren't thinking that before we celebrated 25 of these events, "M" motor flights would become commonplace, breaking Mach would occur frequently, one of our members would put a payload into space, and we could design and simulate many rockets and flights on a computer that could sit on our laps.
The first LDRS had no flyer certifications, because no such program yet existed. For that matter, it had no certified motors, and no insurance either. We did not yet have the ATF sniffing into our business, and certainly, there were no cool TV programs showing the world what we do. It was an innocent and uncomplicated time, when for the most part, we flew under the radar of all the regulatory entities that we must deal with today.
A few LDRS's ago, a member suggested to me that we had messed up by becoming more visible - that we should go back to flying under the radar. That is a nice reverie, but there's no way it can happen. We have changed, and our world has as well. There are very few populated places on this planet that I can think of where any of us will get away with routinely flying 15 foot rockets to 20K+ feet, with no one bothering us. Of course we can't go back, and I'd argue that we shouldn't want to.
All progress has a price, and one can't really expect in a terrorist-terrified world that all the high-power rocketeer progress we have seen can be achieved without paying our dues. We are paying them by self-regulating, looking out for safety, but still forging ahead. If the first LDRS participants would be amazed at what Tripolitans would be flying at LDRS 25, I wonder if the attendees at LDRS 50 will chuckle when they think of those flyers 25 years earlier being impressed by a cluster of N-motors. Who knows for sure where this will lead?
We can only speculate about what Tripolitans will be flying at our 50th LDRS anniversary. To me, the most important consideration is that Tripoli is still in existence at LDRS 50, and that we have found a way - despite all the hardships and challenges thrown in our paths in an increasingly complicated world - to progress as strongly and consistently as we have in our first twenty-five LDRS's. My thanks to all who have gotten us this far. And for those who must take us through the next twenty-five: you have a great legacy and example to follow. Keep the momentum going!
Back to Candidate Information Menu