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EAA AirVenture Today is published by the Experimental Aircraft Association for EAA AirVenture from July 27 - August 3. It is distributed free on the convention grounds as well as other locations in Oshkosh and surrounding communities. Stories and photos are copyrighted 2008 by EAA AirVenture Today and EAA. Reproduction by any means is prohibited without written consent.


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Volume 9, Number 4 July 30, 2008     

Rocket Racing League opens Tuesday air show with first public flight
By Kristy Hemp
The Rocket Racer takes off  for the Tuesday air show crowd for a demonstration flight. Photo by Craig Vander Kolk
The Rocket Racer lands after concluding it's the demonstration flight. Photo by Craig Vander Kolk

The Rocket Racing League (RRL) unveiled its competition racing aircraft Tuesday in a single-ship demonstration to open Tuesday's afternoon air show. This marked the first public flight of these aircraft, which were first introduced in April in New York.

As the rocket racer prepared for takeoff, the crowd was advised to put their sunglasses on. After a loud pop, 1,500 pounds of thrust from a liquid oxygen and kerosene engine, a short takeoff, and incredible vertical climb, the rocket racer was high overhead with 15 foot flames out the back. Immediate applause came from the crowd. For this demonstration, the rocket racer rotated at 100 knots, but on the "raceway in the sky," they would normally go 200-250 knots.

Throughout the demonstration, the rocket racer pilot would shut off its engine to cool it-and to keep it from climbing higher-then re-ignite the engine to continue its vertical accents and high g turns. One person in the crowd described the sound of the shut off and re-igniting like an acetylene torch. After a couple high-speed low altitude fly-bys the rocket racer made an ironically quiet landing and ended with a cool down period per FAA regulations.

This NASCAR-style racing league will feature 6 to 10 rocket-powered aircraft flown side-by-side by top pilots through a "three-dimensional track way" at venues throughout the world.

The goal of the RRL is to bring 21st century technology to 21st century fans. One day they want rocket racing fans to race along. Rocket racing enthusiasts can watch a synthetic "raceway in the sky" with super-imposed graphics in the RRL tent that showcases how competitors will fly a "raceway in the sky" via in-panel and 3-D helmet displays during actual competition.

Fans can also get an up-close look and learn more about the rocket racer aircraft at the tent. Video game enthusiasts can play a RRL video game on a simulator at the tent. Fans are able to meet the pit crew and Tuesday's rocket racer pilot (Rick Searfoss, a shuttle commander and colonel in the Air Force) in the RRL exhibit in AeroShell Square over the next two days. Repeat performances of the RRL aircraft will be on Friday and Saturday at 2:30 p.m. to open the air show.

Rocket Racing League
A rocket powered Velocity takes off at AirVenture 2008.
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