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TARC 2018 is in the books!

The 16th year of the Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) wrapped up May 12th with the final fly-off at the Great Meadow in the Plains, Virginia. Taking first place was Creekview High School from Canton, Georgia, who edged out last years champs Festus High (Festus, MO) with Russellville City Schools Team 3 (Russellville, AL) close behind. The top ten finishers split more than $100,000 in cash and scholarships and Creekview High will travel to compete in the International Rocketry Challenge taking place at the Farnborough Air Show in Hampshire, United Kingdom.

Hundreds of bright, enthusiastic students, along with parents and teachers, representing 102 teams had made their way to the TARC finals near Washington, DC. Many of these students got to attend the "Rockets on the Hill" event of Friday where they got to meet with their elected representatives and talk about the importance of STEM education. Friday evening they then gathered at an area high school auditorium for orientation and a preview of the Saturday launch.

The launch objectives for the first round this year was to fly two raw hens eggs to an altitude of 800 feet and return them to the ground unbroken with a total flight duration range of 41 to 43 seconds (second round flights had slightly different objectives). Several other requirements (the models had to have two different body diameters, the model has to return by parachute all in one piece, etc.) added to the complexity of the event for the students.  

Over 100 volunteers from the National Association of Rocketry (NAR) as well as staff from the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) were on the field to run the event on Saturday (and a good number of the NAR volunteers spent their Friday setting up the flying range at Great Meadow). The teams arrived to near-perfect flying weather for the first round of launches, but the winds kicked up a bit in the afternoon for the second round of flights giving the teams an additional variable to consider. Fortunately there was no rain in the forecast this year and all the planned flights in all the rounds were able to be made.

The winners were announced and the awards presented prior to the day-ending barbecue dinner. At the end of the ceremony, event director Trip Barber divulged the rules for TARC 2019. With the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 in mind, TARC teams will for the first time have to loft three eggs as their payload for the next years event! There are other specifications that relate to the historic first Moon landing which should make this upcoming competition very fun and challenging! The complete rules for TARC 2019 can be found at http://rocketcontest.org (and we'll have the updated info here on our site soon as well).

I was fortunate to be one of the NAR volunteers this year (I've been able to be at the finals for 13 of the 16 years), and every year I say it's the best day I spend on a rocket range all year, even though I don't get to fly a single rocket myself! And it's not just the best day on a rocket range, but it's probably the best day of the year period... getting to see how great, polite, personable and down-right bright much of our youth are warms this Old Rocketeers heart and reminds me that we do have a bright future for our nation. All too often all we hear about is the bad... this is a chance to see the good first hand...

If you are a student or educator and would like to compete in the Team America Rocketry Challenge, I heartily encourage you to give it a try! It's a great way to involve STEM related learning with a great deal of fun as well!
Also if you are a NAR member that can serve as a mentor and/or volunteer to work at the finals, I also would greatly suggest that you get involved - you'll find it to be wonderfully rewarding!
For more info on getting into TARC, check out the Team America website at http://rocketcontest.org.

You can see some photos from the TARC finals on the AIA Flickr page at https://www.flickr.com/photos/aia-aerospace/albums and even more courtesy of the NAR and photographer Glenn Feveryear at https://www.flickr.com/gp/99675861@N08/51m57r.

Thanks for reading...

Andy/ASP

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