Name That Vern

Don't recognize the gentleman right off? He's probably made an impact in your life. Maybe a crater. That's Vern Estes, president of Estes Industries, makers of a lifetime of model rockets, as he appeared in Estes catalog #681, from 1968.

Estes Rockets are finally online! Click Here to see the modern day selection.






You know, 1968? Back when this starter kit was a whopping $6.50.

This launcher, the ancestor of the Solar Launcher, is interesting in that they got it to use batteries. The traditional 60's launch system included somebody's car, which was connected with jumper cables.





Another big thing back then was clustering techniques, the fine art of launching a model rocket with multiple engines. Wouldn't you love to be the kid in this picture, trying to attach alligator clamps to a 4-ignitor rat's nest and trying to make sure all the engines fired at once?


Apparently clustering never did work well, as as early as late 1970 clustered engine designs were basically gone, though the multi-stage models were still going strong.






Estes was always experimenting, putting out new models and new technologies. This Camroc, using special film and special processing, is the ancestor to the Astrocam, which thanks to later standardized 110 film could be processed anywhere.


In 1968, Estes was promoting Camoc for stereo photography. The idea being to launch Camroc twice, with the second launch a few degrees off, to produce a stereo image pair.





We had to include the vicious '68 glider models. Back at the height of the moon missions, interest in rocketry was high, and with a large number of adults involved, allowing Estes to sell sophisticated models that were difficult to build well. Over the years, the models became more and more simplified, to the point of pre-fabricated plastic fin assemblies. (Blasphemy!) We just had to include a couple of the great designs of yesteryear: