Kevin Metzler: Carbon Fiber Construction

Kevni Metzler was born in Texas but raised in Oregon on the coast where he first became involved with model rocketry. At the time, one of the hobby rocket companies was giving away free starter kits to students who did rocketry demonstrations for their schools. Kevin decided he wanted to get the free starter kit and show off his rocket skills for the school. On the appointed day, Kevin gave a detailed explanation of how rockets work and then launched one of his rockets for the other students to watch. From that point on, Kevin has always had a rocket under construction or ready to fly.

In 1991 Kevin discovered composit rocket motors in a magazine ad. Intreaged, he sent away for a catalog and later bought his first ‘G’ class motors. Shortly thereafter he met Karl Bauman and learned about Tripoli Rocketry Association. Kevin signed up with Tripoli in 1992 when he began by flying at club rocket launches.

When asked what his favorite rocket motor of all time is, Kevin replies, “the AeroTech K185W is my favorite.” Kevin claims this motor provides the most entertainment value for the money (having over 7 seconds of burn time). Kevin has flow the K185W in a number of projects over the years including his favorite scratch built, 7.5 foot Quasar rocket.

The Red Max rocket was his favorite kit as a kid. And, it is interesting to note Kevin’s own creation, the five foot Black Panther, resembles the Red Max in basic shape and design. Kevin says his current favorite rocket is his 2/3 scale Aerobee 150. This rocket is 10” in diameter, stands over 16 feet tall, weighs in at over 150 lbs. and is powered by a massive experimental P6500 rocket motor. Kevin loads a bowling ball in the payload section in an attempt to grab the Tripoli bowling ball loft record. The idea is to launch the bowling ball as high as possible and by using a very large parachute, keep the bowling ball in the air as long as possible.

Like many other rocket enthusiests, Kevin claims the his favorite launch site is Black Rock, Nevada. Kevin attends several out-of-state launches every year and claims he’s never seen a location that he liked better than Black Rock.

Carbon fiber air frames are Kevin’s latest interest. Almost all of his large scale projects for the last several years have utilized carbon fiber airframes. At the Tripoli Vegas Turkey Shoot Kevin showed off his Black Panther rocket, a prime example of the smooth finish obtainable with carbon fiber. This rocket was about 9 inches in diameter at its widest point and shaped somewhat like a giant seven foot lava lamp. However, unlike the lamp, the sheen and paint job was glossy black with nice purple tints. Overall, this was a very stunning rocket.

Currently Kevin is working on a bigger, better Aerobee Super Sport. This rocket will use a 12 inch carbon fiber airframe. Kevin wants to build it light enough so it can be powered by an AeroTech K550W, but strong enough to handle the massive power of a ‘N’ class motor like the AeroTech N2000W. Expect to see the rocket next year!

When asked what advice he would give new rocketeers, Kevin replies, “build it strong and don’t worry about the weight.”