Who's Who >>

Brad, the "Rocket Rev.," Wilson

AKA: "Rocket Rev."

Location: Des Plaines, Illinois

Certification Level: Tripoli L-3 and NAR L-3.... also TAP and L3CC

Club Memberships: Tripoli Quad Cities #39, NAR-Quad Cities, and Quad City Rocket Society

Favorite Rockets: LOC Mini-Mag


I'm a "born again rocketeer."  Went to my first rocket launch since high shool, in 1991 at Danville, Illinois.  Was instantly re-hooked.  Came back in the spring of 1992 and certified "High Power" (back when there was only one cert level) on my own designed, scratch built, 4" diameter and about 66 inches long, LOC parts, rear ejection rocket on an Aerotech H-242-m Blue Thunder motor.  Perfect soft apogee deployment and recovery, only about 50 feet from the pond, east of the launch site.

Did my L-2 certificaiton flight soon after the multi-level cert program began also at Danville, but at the range south of Tipton.  My rocket was (California Consumer Aeronautics) 8" in diameter for 4 feet with three 1/8" thick fins, transitioning to 12' of PML 6" tubing, topped off with US-Rockets 6" nose cone.  The power was supplied by a 9 motor cluster consisting of a central Aerotech K-550 surronded by 4-airstarted G-80's and 4 Rocketflight 29mm Silver Streaks.  The rocket lifted off majestically on a colum of black smoke. At about 200 feet off the ground the G-80's and silver streaks lit off, adding a shower of sparks coming out of the dense black colum of smoke from the K-550.  An Adept Alts-2-50K altimeter supplied the airframe separation and tumble drag recovery without a drogue, until the rocket decended to 1200' off the ground where a 12' diameter PML parachute deployed perfectly for a fine spectacular flight. 

I was the founding prefect of Tripoli Quad Cities, way back in 1996(?), which became the home of the annual Mid West Power Launch starting back in 2003 where I remain the head RSO.

I started attending the Tripoli Wisconsin launches back in 1994.  It was that crew that started calling me the "Rocket Reverend."  They found out that I am a full time ordained United Methodist Pastor which is where they got the nickname for me.   As with many such things, it was quickly shortened to the "Rocket Rev." 

I did my level three cert also at Danville.  I had bought an eight foot section of 6.131 black fiberglass tubing from North Coast Rocketry (back before they were bought out by Estes.  I had PML slot one of thier 6" nose cones for me to use as a tail come with custom fins aft and another 6" PML nose cone on top.  There was a 75 mm fiberglass mmt which easily held the Kosdon-East M3300 motor.  The rocket flew perfectly to 10881 feet off the ground where the drogue chute was deployed and the main parachute opened at 1200"AGL for another spectacular flight.  I also submitted my cert to NAR and became a dual L-3 in both NAR and Tripoli.

Some years ago I was asked to serve on the TAP committee, and I've been there ever since.  I also was asked to serve on NAR's L3CC group.  I have overseen dozens of L-3 certs and actually enjoy it a great deal.  I get to see stuff that I never thought of doing and its been a great education as well as a satisfying way to serve my fellow rocketeers.

I am also the chief cook and bottle washer for "Wilson F/X" Digital Control Systems.  Wilson F/X has been the only launch system that TQC has ever owned.  They were my "beta-testing" club since the first 4 pad W-F/X system was created back in 1995.  We quickly out-grew that four pad  launch controller and four single pad-pad boxes, so Wilson F/X created a 16 pad system using four 4 pad pad-boxes out at the pads connected to a 16 pad controller.  There were launches so big that eventually I set up two 16 pad launch systems at the same time.  Then Tim Lehr the "Wildoman" wanted to know if I could build a launch system big enough to "do an LDRS."  Well, Tripoli Quad CIties never sponsored an LDRS, but 2003 saw the birth of not only the first Mid-West Power rocket launch, but the first public showing and use of the current 64 pad system.  The Wilson F/X 64-pad launch system has been up and running flawlessly since the very first Mid West Power.

My team and I have added mroe features to the system since 2003, but the basic 64 pad controller and 64 pad configuration has been running flawlessly since then.

A 32 pad Wilson F/X system is perfect for most club launches.  You can have an 8-pad bank box (PB-8) at 25 feet for Estes size rockets, another PB-8 at 100' for H and I motors, another PB-8 at 300 feet for J-L motors, and another PB-8 at either 500 feet or 1000 feet for an away pad.  How much communicaiton wire does one use to reach out to 32 pads as far as 1000 feet away?  One uses 1000 feet of wire and I use 100' 16/3 outdoor extension cords.  They are rugged, easily rolled out and up on spools, and cheap to replace if they get bunged up. 

I've flown rockets all across the country, 2 LDRSs in Potter NY, several Winter Nationals in Florida (I relaly miss those), many Springfests by Las Vegas and the Vegas LDRS, LDRS Lucerne CA, Orangeburg SC LDRS, Rockymount NC, Smurrfs, NSLs, Danville Dare (of course), LDRS Hartzel Colorado, 3-Oaks Michigan (several different clubs), 2 LDRSs in Amarillo TX, Every Kloudbusters LDRS in Argonia Kansas, St, Louis MO, Tripoli Indiana, dozens of Woosh and Tripoli Wisconsin launches at Bong, Spring Green WI, Tripoli Quad Cities, every Mid Weest Power, and so many more they slip thru my memory.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Brad, the "Rocket Rev.," Wilson


Favorite Quote:

There are few atheists at Rocket Launches.  How do I know?  That's easy.  I hear all sorts of people imploring the Lord and occassionally some of the saints on behalf of thier rockets.  "Dear Jesus," "O Lord," "My God," and of course the ever popular "Sweet Mother Mary and Joseph" are some of the most frequent prayers.  Of course, there also seem to be many farmers at these launches.  How can I tell?  That's easy too!  They must be farmers because they keep talking about the many natural forms of fertilizer that are found on farms... you know, things found on farms like "manure," "barn carpeting," and various other coloquial terms for fertilizer.  There are also apparently many evangelists who attend rocket launches. How can I tell?  That's easy too, they must be evangelists because you can hear them talking a great deal about "hell" and "damnation."  I bet you had no idea that rocketeers were so religious!

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