Launching a Rocket in My Father's Honor, 40 Years Later

The story of how a failed rocket launch inspired one man to retrace his father's mission 40 years later.

Near the the end of the Apollo space missions of the early 1970s, my father—an aerospace engineer from Johnson City, New York—began work on his own Saturn V (the massive vehicle that brought men to the surface of the moon). Even at 1/100 scale, the Centuri Saturn V was the grand daddy of all model rockets—at almost 4 feet high it was as tall as me at the time. The kit had hundreds of separate parts that took my dad months (my mom remembers it as YEARS) to meticulously cut, glue, sand, and paint.


When he finally finished, he brought the whole family out to an open field. We counted down, and my mom had the honor of pushing the button. The rocket shot 500 feet into the sky...but the chutes failed to deploy and we watched in horror as it plummeted—nose first—back to earth. Dad's Saturn V was destroyed and I've never forgotten.

Front view, side view, rear view of my dad's Saturn V with launch pad, 1973.

My father passed away a few years ago, and I recently discovered his launch pad in the attic—along with dozens of snapshots of the original launch. I am a father now as well, and it struck me that this was the first time I remember seeing him fail at ANYTHING. It reminded me of a time when our fathers were omnipotent; when any dispute with the kid down the block could be settled with "I'll ask my dad."

Dad prepping the rocket and liftoff!, 1973.

The 40-year-old Centuri Saturn V kit No. 2140 I found on eBay. Incredibly it is complete and even has the original bottle of contact cement.

I started thinking about taking this experience full circle, to see if I can reverse the outcome or see if history will repeat. That's when I thought of the idea to build another Saturn V from the very same vintage Centuri model kit my dad built (recently purchased on eBay), and pick up where he left off. I plan to conduct a public launch (in Kirkwood, NY) and fire the rocket from dad's 40 year old launchpad —and hopefully—land it safely.

Re-Launch day will be documented by myself, videographer Joe Hollier, and long-time collaborator photographer Michael Northrup and will take place sometime in spring/summer of 2013. Our photo study (along with my dad's original images) will populate a self-published art photo-book that I will write and design. A short documentary video will also be produced.

Launch day, 1973. I'm in the front in the Superman t-shirt. My grandparents drove up from New Jersey for the event.

In the process, I hope to share a bit of my father's geeked-out love of flight and physics with my two young sons, who never knew their grandfather. 

But this is more than a personal story. Saturn V Relaunch is a tribute to the days before NASA cutbacks when every kid wanted to be an astronaut in order to explore the unknown, if only in our own backyards. And to all of the model rockets that caught fire on the launch pad, exploded in mid-air, were lost in a tree or disappeared from sight, never to be seen again.

Scouting the original launch site with Eli, 2012.

To do this, I started a Kickstarter page, and while we exceeded our original goal, in the last two days of fundraising, I would like to expand the video part of this project into a short documentary film with original music by composer Shay Lynch, who did the music on the project video and the trailer. But making even a short documentary will cost money. I have added an HD digital download of the documentary to all pledges of $10 or more. Please back the project or consider upgrading your pledge by adding on a book or poster or mug.

This article was produced in partnership with the United Nations to launch the biggest-ever global conversation on the role of cooperation in building the future we want.

When half of the world's population doesn't share the same opportunity or rights as the other half, the whole world suffers. Like a bird whose wings require equal strength to fly, humanity will never soar to its full potential until we achieve gender equality.

That's why the United Nations made one of its Sustainable Development Goals to "Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls." That goal includes providing women and girls equal access to education and health care, as well as addressing gender-based discrimination and violence against women and girls.

While there is still much work to be done, history shows us that we are capable of making big leaps forward on this issue. Check out some of the milestones humanity has already reached on the path to true equality.

Historic Leaps Toward Gender Equality

1848 The Seneca Falls Convention in New York, organized by Elizabeth Lady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, is the first U.S. women's convention to discuss the oppression of women in sociopolitical, economic, and religious life.

1893 New Zealand becomes the first self-governing nation to grant national voting rights to women.

1903 Marie Curie becomes the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. She is also the only woman to win multiple Nobel Prizes, for Physics in 1903 and Chemistry in 1911.

1920 The 19th Amendment is passed in the U.S. giving women the right to vote in all 50 U.S. states.

1973 The U.S. Open becomes the first major sports tournament of its kind to offer equal pay to women, after tennis star Billie Jean King threatened to boycott.

1975 The first World Conference on Women is held in Mexico, where a 10-year World Plan of Action for the Advancement of Women is formed. The first International Women's Day is commemorated by the UN in the same year.

1979 The UN General Assembly adopts the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), also known as the "Women's Bill of Rights." It is the most comprehensive international document protecting the rights of women, and the second most ratified UN human rights treaty after the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

1980 Vigdis Finnbogadottir of Iceland becomes the first woman to be elected head of state in a national election.

1993 The UN General Assembly adopts the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, the first international instrument to explicitly define forms of violence against women and lay out a framework for global action.

2010 The UN General Assembly creates the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) to speed progress on meeting the needs of women and girls around the world.

2018 The UN and European Union join forces on the Spotlight Initiative, a global, multi-year initiative focused on eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls.

As the UN celebrates its 75th anniversary, it is redoubling its commitment to reach all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, including gender equality. But it will take action and effort from everyone to ensure that women and girls are free from discrimination and violence. Learn more about what is being done to address gender equality and see how you can get involved here.

And join the global conversation about the role of international cooperation in building the future by taking the UN75 survey here.

Let's make sure we all have a say in the future we want to see.

via WFMZ / YouTube

John Perez was acquitted on Friday, February 21, for charges stemming from an altercation with Allentown, Pennsylvania police that was caught on video.

Footage from September 2018 shows an officer pushing Perez to the ground. After Perez got to his feet, multiple officers kicked and punched him in an attempt to get him back on the ground.

Perez claims he was responding to insults hurled at him by the officers. The police say that Perez was picking a fight. The altercation left Perez with a broken nose, scrapes, swelling, and bruises from his hips to his shoulder.

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