Rick Duvall, Sono Tubes and Scale Rockets

A big six foot tall Saturn V will catch the eye of almost anyone at a rocket launch. Rick Duvall’s 1/48th scale version of the Saturn V is no exception. Rick worked for months on his project in preparation for a first flight at Springfest 99, held just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada at the El Dorado dry lake bed. Rick began by searching around for giant tubing large enough for his project. With cost also being a factor, Rick found concrete form tubes locally which had a 8 inch interior diameter and 8.25 inch exterior. The tubes were much less expensive than those used in traditional rocketry. The catch was that the insides of the tube were coated with wax. Normally these tubes are used as concrete forms in the construction industry. The wax on the inside of the tube helps with removal of the tube after the concrete is set. Rick was able to peal away the first layer of paper and wax, leaving the bare cardboard unharmed beneath. From there Rick made careful measurements and cut the tubing to size.

Rick started into rocketry while in his second year of elementary school. His he began with an old Centuri starter kits which included the launch pad, ignition system, and rocket kit. Like many of the rest of us, Rick was hooked after seeing his first rocket soar into the sky. In junior high school he became heavily involved in the school rocket club. During this time the local fire marshal became convinced that the rocket clubs launches were in violation of many of the local codes. This began a aggressive battle between Rick and the local fire marshal. After many weeks of endless calls and letters, Rick won his argument against the fire marshal. The rocket club continued to fly rockets in the local area.

In 1993 Rick discovered AeroTech. His first high performance rocket kit was an AeroTech Cheetah. Rick built and flew the Cheetah at local Lucerne Test Range (LTR) rocket launches. The first large rocket launch he attended was Springfest, an LTR launch held near Las Vegas, Nevada (now Rick’s favorite launch site). At Springfest he became very excited about high power rockets after seeing Jim Cornwell fly his monster, 12 inch diameter, super-scale mosquito rocket. After witnessing the mosquito jet into the sky, Rick began building his first larger high power kit, a THOY Falcon which he later flew on an AeroTech I211W rocket motor. But the single stage Falcon wasn’t challenging enough for Rick, so he began modifying it into a two stage rocket. Rick flew the two stage version a number of times.

Rick’s favorite rockets are the VB Extreme 54 and the AeroTech Cheetah (which flew over 20 times in four years). Rick decided he would modify the Extreme 54 to incorporate two stage deployment for recovery. Rick felt it would be easier to recover this very high flying rocket if at maximum altitude (apogee), the rocket’s on board altimeter would deploy a drogue parachute. This small chute would allow the rocket to fall very rapidly from its high altitude down to about 1,000 feet where a large parachute would deploy to slow the rocket for its final decent to the ground. The dual deployment system worked great for Rick.