Saturday, March 05, 2011

Rocketry Magazine Archaeology: The Tripolitan

This morning, Chris Michielssen posted about an old rocket magazine named Rocketrek. Chris evidently was a contributor and notes that he hadn't even seen an issue in 30 years.  I, personally, had never even heard of the magazine.  Chris says he'll be posting some of his content to his blog.  This reminded me of another old magazine.  While 30 years places Rocketrek around the turn of the '80's (along with California Rocketry), the Tripolitan dates back over 42 years to 1968.  The material in this post was extracted from the March 2001 issue of High Power Rocketry, which was a 33 YEAR, 168 ISSUE INDEX of the magazine.  The articles were written by Bruce Kelly with input from Francis Graham and Tom Blazanin.

The current Tripoli Rocketry Association  traces its roots to a science club in the East Pittsburgh area.  The club soon expanded to three sections (hence Tripoli).  The organization was known as the Tripoli Federation of Rocket Clubs and its sections were dubbed prefectures, a designation that remains until today.  While the prefectures agreed to have a common publication, they didn't agree on who would produce it. The Radio and Aerospace Team of Conneauville (RATC), led by Eugene Bocan, produced the first issue of the Tripolitan. It was merged with their existing newsletter so they released it as Volume 1 Number 2.  However, another prefecture, the Aerodynamics Institute for Terrestrial Rocketry (AITR), didn't like this arrangement.  So, a couple of weeks later, Arthur Bower released their version as Volume 1 Number 1.  Tripoli has been somewhat contentious is recent years and I guess it gets this trait honestly!

RATC only produced two issues and dropped out of Tripoli "over some unrelated matters" (Graham). The AITR version continued, morphing to the old High Power Rocketry magazine.  The early issues were mimeographed and featured hand drawn covers.  From the indicies provided, the magazine covered more than rocketry.  There was other 'sciencey' material and a lot of politics. One issue was dedicated to things Nixon said about Watergate. Imagine how such subjects would go over today.   The covers reflected the group's rocket orientation, well, mostly.  One showed a rendition of The Beatles' Sgt. Peppers cover with the Beatles being replaced with the club leaders.  This sketch was placed over a tombstone engraved with "NAR". There was also a issue with a blank cover and one cover was from a high school yearbook that was saved from the dumpster. Hobby publications have come a long way!

I thought that HPR Mag should resurrect some of the old articles as a regular feature in the newer issues.  My suggestion was ignored.  I'd love to see articles such as "New X-Fuel Development", "The Mini-Herc Really Works", and "Gloria Mundi - A Tripoli First" to name just a few.

The magazine retained its name for 98 issues.  The August 1991 saw it renamed to The Tripolitan, America's High Power Rocketry Magazine.  The first 98 issued saw many editors (mostly Arthur Bower, Francis Graham, and Tom Blazanin, with some issues from Cleve Barnes, J. Daniel Potemra, Barton Levison, William Hall, and one Bruce Kelly).  The quality of the production steadily increased with the biggest change being under Tom's leadership.  Bruce Kelly took over with the 95th issue and remained editor to the end.  On issue 105, the name was truncated to merely High Power Rocketry.

(out of time for now...decided to publish as-is)