Tripoli Nebraska was formed in October 1991. There were 3
Tripoli members in Nebraska at the time; Kevin Urbom, Bruce Lee and Mike Pazderka.
Kevin called Bruce and said "let's form a prefecture." Mike and Bruce worked
together, talked it over, talked with Kevin and decided to go for it. All we had to
do was get someone certified. So, Mike and Bruce decided to go to Danville and get
certified. Bruce certified on a NCR Katana and Mike certified on a LOC Heavy Duty
Beauty. There they met Dennis LaMothe and Art Markowitz who ran HQ at the time and
after Bruce and Mike were ceritified they set up Tripoli Nebraska. (Note: the biggest
motor flown at this Danville was an I motor. There were over 100 flyers in
attendance and there was one "J" motor flight planned with much anticipation.
In those days a J motor was rare to see fly)
Bruce Lee became Prefect. Kevin couldn't make it to Danville
but he wanted to become certified. So the first official launch of Tripoli Nebraska
was held in late November 1991 at Beaver City Nebraska. It was 40 degrees and there
was 6 inches of snow on the ground. There were 2 members in attendance, Kevin and
Bruce and there was a total of 4 flights. Kevin's first attempt at certifiying was
on a LOC Mini-Magg which had a tangled chute and busted a fin. Kevin epoxied the fin
back on (5 minute epoxy takes a while to set up at 40 degrees) and flew it again to get
his certification. Bruce launched his NCR Katana twice, the second flight with a
cluster of 7 motors, an H73 and 6 D12-0's. This flight led to Bruce's first HPR
article, "Clustering for Beginners, Part 1."
Out of the original group of three, Kevin Urbom went on to become the
last volunteer Tripoli corporate lawyer. Bruce Lee went on to become the
"Tripoli Report" editor, national board member, Tripoli national Secretary, then
Tripoli national Treasurer. In 1993 Kevin dropped out of Tripoli. Mike
Pazderka and Bruce Lee still remain as the founding members.
In the spring of 1992 Tripoli Nebraska doubled with the addition of 3
new members; David and Mick Neville, and Scott Meinhardt. Bruce and Mike travelled
back to spring Danville and got to be good friends with Rocket R & D (before it was
sold to Gary Buck). David and Mick Neville went to a Kloudbusters launch and got
their certifications. Tony Cochran was the next to join in 1992. Tony was the first
member of T.H.O.R. to be awarded lifetime T.H.O.R. member.
The next Tripoli Nebraska launch was moved to Arapahoe Nebraska
airport in the summer of 1992. All of the members mentioned so far were in
attendance except for Mike Pazderka. This launch started out with a visit from the police,
which gave us all a scare, until we found out the sheriff was a friend of Kevin's.
The rocketry world got the first view of the now famous "Dr. Mario" rocket of
Bruce Lee. It had a perfect flight on a J800 AeroTech reload.
There were 2 more Arapahoe launches and the end of using the Arapahoe
launch site with Kevin dropping out of Tripoli. A memorable but sad moment at the
second to last launch there with Scott Meinhardt getting sick with Tony and Bruce having
to take him to the hospital.
Tripoli Nebraska just kept growing. In 1993 we picked up new
members from Iowa and Kansas. With the loss of Kevin Urbom we had no launch site for
1993, so, we travelled. Two launches in Kansas, LDRS in Kansas and 2 launches at
Danville. At LDRS Bruce Lee was made editor of the "Tripoli Report."
In 1994 we picked up Mike Collins from South Dakota, who went on to
form the rocket motor dealership "Midwest
AeroModeler." Mike Haigh joined from Iowa and we had a new launch site at Harlan
Iowa which served through 1994.
In 1995 we found thanks to member Perry Lambert our first really good
launch site at Exeter Nebraska. Then with the addition of Mark Uhlenkamp to the
group we had a second really good launch site in Westside Iowa. Also, Bruce Lee ran for
and won a seat on the Tripoli Board of Directors and became the national Secretary.
In 1996 with the addition of Larry Drake we had another excellent
launch site in Pickrell Nebraska and Bruce Anderberry set up a launch site for one launch
in Axtell Nebraska. Now we had a problem most prefectures wish they had, to many
good launch sites. They covered our geographic area pretty well with a 5 hour
driving spread between the 2 farthest launch sites, Axtell to Westside.
The selection of Hartsel CO as the launch site for LDRS in 1997
started the planning for the first group project for Tripoli Nebraska in late 1996.
This was the begining for the now famous "Nebraska Heat" project and really
brought the group closer with all of the planning and construction and kicked off our
first actual Tripoli Nebraska group meeting which wasn't held at a launch.
1997 saw the biggest turnout of Tripoli Nebraska members at an LDRS
and the successful flight of "Nebraska Heat" which also proved to be a first for
anyone to airstart an "M" motor in a cluster. Mark Uhlenkamp replaced
Bruce Lee as Prefect. Larry Drake flew the world record for a successful cluster
consisting of 269 motors. Bruce Lee certified level 3 with "Super Mario."
Another great launch site was tested at Breda Iowa.
In 1998 Tripoli Nebraska joined with Tripoli Des Moines and held the
first regional launch "Fire on the Farm." This launch was a huge success with 54
flyers at a 2 day launch. Also, Tripoli Nebraska and the NAR organization, The Omaha
Rocket Club combined and formed T.H.O.R. - The Heartland Organization of Rocketry.
Rob Skiba was elected President with Mark Uhlenkamp as Prefect and Arley Davis as ORC
section leader. The August launch saw the first "L" motor flown. The second
regional launch "Nebraska Heat - in honor of Bruce Furan" was held and had the
first launch of an "M" motor at a Nebraska launch by Bruce Lee in "Super