had become a symbol. A sign of what we were capable of. Although we never thought we would actually do it, we knew that we could do it, we just needed the initiative.
Over the past year we had blown up many things. A stuffed bunny was destroyed with the help of M-80s. That was fairly impressive for a first time. A teddy bear was decapitated with ground up model rocket engines. Finally, our greatest achievement was the 3 foot rocket. This had been filled with ground up rocket engines, bottle rockets, and matchheads. This rocket looked like an authentic firework. Each explosion was getting better...and bigger. With our aims set high, two of my friends build a 6'6" rocket. This was to be the next bigger and better explosion.
The rocket was built out of four tubes that were roughly 20 inches long, a plastic nose cone, and a G engine was to provide the propulsion. My friends then purchased extra rocket engines and ground them into a powder. They also cut the heads off of matches. This material, which amounted to eight pounds of solid fuel, filled the entire shaft of the rocket, including the nose cone.
Based on physics and prior experience, we contemplated what the rocket would look like. We predicted the rocket would go 500 meters into the air. After seven seconds, or somewhere around the apex of it's flight, the fuel inside the shaft would be ignited. The powder, which is very concussive, would tear the rocket into pieces. The powder is also flashes very bright. The explosion would not only destroy the rocket, but would do so in a brilliant fashion. With the destruction of the rocket, the matchheads would be raining out of the shaft. Most would be ignited sending little lights streaming out in all directions. This was to be the most grand firework we would ever see. This rocket was the symbol.
One day a few of my friends set off to launch the rocket. However, on the way from the car to the site the fuse fell out of the rocket. Our plans ended abruptly. After a shouting match that didn't recover the missing fuse, they returned home disappointed that they had not seen the rocket.
Later, on uneventful summer nights, we would bring up the idea of setting off the rocket. Each time the idea was dismissed. We had still not purchased a replacement fuse. Another reason was that we didn't want to be caught, or that we didn't know where would be a good launch site. The real reason is, we were very afraid. Time had fermented our fears. The main engine was powerful enough, but the rocket itself was very flimsy. The shaft had been built in four parts, each duct taped together. The weight of the top had created a bad bend in the center. All the problems were incorporated into a 6'6" bomb. We had a right to be afraid.
Eventually, we did purchase a fuse and decided to finally get rid of the rocket. I went out with the two friends that built the rocket and picked out the site. We picked a field that runs along a seldom used road in my township. There is a pond in the field that is a good 10 feet lower than the surrounding field. Rocks formed a bluff between the pond and the field. This was to be our bunker, our protection from the rocket. A path runs along the pond. We found a small area in the field just off the path that had no grass. This spot was to the ground zero.
We began to set up the monstrosity. Piano wire was hammered into the ground to be the guide wire. The bend in the rocket began to frighten us. We used a coat hanger as a quick fix. Pieces were used to build a sort of split that was taped to the rocket. Next we attached a new fuse to the engine. During this careful assembly, a car drove along the road.
One good thing about the site we had picked is the grass surrounding us was over two feet tall. We lied down quietly in the field and waited for the car to drive by. We realized that my car chilling out by the railroad tracks was kind of shady. We needed to finish our job quickly. However, the car never slowed down, which calmed our nerves.
After double checking the construction of the site and the fuse, we ran wire across the path which just barely made it to our bunker. We discussed the logistics of departure. Who was going to pick up what in what order. Once we were satisfied, we took our positions.
My friends took their place in the bunker with the ingiter. I took my place 50 feet away with the video camera to catch this awesome sight on tape. It turns the tape would pale in comparison to the scenes that are now etched into our memory.
We were all set. The getaway car was in position, I was all set with the camera, my friends were all ready to gather up the incriminating evidence and sprint off into the car once our deed was done. Now all we had to do was press the button and hope we didn't somehow get arrested or injured. With adrenaline running, my friend pressed the button.
Nothing happened. We thought perhaps the fuse fell out or after all that work the engine was a dud. My friend got up to check out the rocket. Just then our monstrosity screamed into the air. It cleared the surrounding hills, cleared the tree line, and headed towards the houses. Near the apex of it's 500 meter flight, there was a big explosion breaking the rocket into several pieces. Some parts fizzled out, while a few main parts began to fall towards the ground. Those parts did fall to the ground in a big explosion, a mini mushroom cloud that is etched in our mind. All we could think was that it landed in someone's yard, or worse, on someone's roof. All we could think was that we had caused damage to someone or something.
With all that noise and fireworks, we figured it was only a matter of time before someone called the police. We sprinted to the car, and I sped out of there. Once we were clear we headed back to a friends house to drop off some equipment before checking the housing plan to see what had happened. On the way the way back we discovered we had left the igniter and the wire in the field. We had to go back and pick that up. I park on the side of the road while my friends jump out and grab what they had left behind. Once they left, I notice headlights out my rearview mirror. They begin to slow down as they come nearer to the car. They begin to pull off to the side of the road. They begin to pull right behind me.
I am frozen, hands to the wheel, scared stiff as to what would happen now. After a terrifying few seconds the car pulls up beside me. The driver opens the window and begins laughing. A girl from the back seat sticks her head out the window. It's my friends sister. She knew what was going down that evening, and was trying to pull a practical joke. Well, her goal was met. She frightened my friends and I worse than we had ever been.
Again, we quickly sped off the road. We headed toward the housing plan to see if we had indeed hit anything. Fortunately, we heard no sirens, saw no fire, and saw no damage anywhere. The adrenaline had worn off and we were glad to be in the clear.
The object that was once a symbol of what we were capable of is now a symbol of what we will never do again. We had a right to be afraid of what we could do. Previous escapades didn't have the chance to hurt anyone. This event sobered us up.