Date   

more events cancelled

Jonathan Sivier
 

The NAR has extended their policy for the cancellation of rocket club events until at least April 16. They will reconsider the situation before that time and decide whether to extend it again.

This means that all of our activities that weren't already cancelled in the first half of April are now cancelled. The only new cancellation at this time is really just the high power launch we had scheduled for Saturday, April 11. The 4-H workshop on April 4 and our meeting at the Springer Center on April 7 were already cancelled due to the policies of the 4-H and the Champaign Park District. Those may also be extended next month and may cause more cancellations as well.

We will be trying to keep our online schedule up-to-date and will attempt to keep everyone informed as the situation develops.

Jonathan


Re: Kerbal Space Program on Sale

Greg Smith
 

You can construct rockets and spaceships and then fly them, seeing what works and what doesn't.”

 

Isn’t that just what we do anyway?  :-)

 

(KSP is great, and fun.)

 

- GDS

 

 

 

From: cia-rocketry@groups.io [mailto:cia-rocketry@groups.io] On Behalf Of Adam Joseph
Sent: Saturday, March 28, 2020 8:35 PM
To: cia-rocketry@groups.io
Subject: [cia-rocketry] Kerbal Space Program on Sale

 

For those looking for something to do in these odd times, especially those with kids interested in math/science/engineering/aerospace, the Space/Rocket simulator Kerbal Space Program is currently on sale on steam for $10. This is a rather fun game introduced to me by Aerospace Engineering Students at UIUC. You can construct rockets and spaceships and then fly them, seeing what works and what doesn't. 

 

 

Adam

 

--

Adam A. Joseph

BSN, RN, PHRN

 

"For once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been and there you will long to return" -Leonardo Da Vinci

 

Please note that replies to emails sent to ajoseph@... and ajoseph3@... will come from this address


Kerbal Space Program on Sale

Adam Joseph
 

For those looking for something to do in these odd times, especially those with kids interested in math/science/engineering/aerospace, the Space/Rocket simulator Kerbal Space Program is currently on sale on steam for $10. This is a rather fun game introduced to me by Aerospace Engineering Students at UIUC. You can construct rockets and spaceships and then fly them, seeing what works and what doesn't. 


Adam

--
Adam A. Joseph
BSN, RN, PHRN

"For once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been and there you will long to return" -Leonardo Da Vinci

Please note that replies to emails sent to ajoseph@... and ajoseph3@... will come from this address


Re: Reminder - Tomorrow's #launch CANCELED #Launch

Jonathan Sivier
 

You can always check the online schedule at

http://www.ciarocketry.org/schedule.html

We will attempt to keep it up-to-date with cancellations as well as announcing them on this list.

Our meeting at the Springer Center on April 7 is also cancelled due to the closure of Park District facilities. They will be making a decision on whether to extend this closure sometime early next month. When that happens we will update the schedule to reflect any new cancellations.

Jonathan


On 3/27/2020 1:58 PM, Greg Smith wrote:
Just a reminder that the rocket launch originally scheduled for tomorrow, Saturday, March 28, at the Forsyth field has been canceled due to the continuing pandemic isolation orders. It actually looks like we won't be missing much in this case since the weather forecast is pretty terrible anyway - rain and high winds (although warm - a good sign).

We still don't know which of our events we may be able to hold in April. It will depend on the advice we get from the state, the NAR and the Park District. We'll try to keep everyone informed as our plans become clearer.

-----

Greg Smith  N9LHI
NAR 15881 * TRA 1974
Director of Operations, Central Illinois Aerospace
greg@...  217-840-1678


Reminder - Tomorrow's #launch CANCELED #Launch

Greg Smith
 

Just a reminder that the rocket launch originally scheduled for tomorrow, Saturday, March 28, at the Forsyth field has been canceled due to the continuing pandemic isolation orders. It actually looks like we won't be missing much in this case since the weather forecast is pretty terrible anyway - rain and high winds (although warm - a good sign).

We still don't know which of our events we may be able to hold in April. It will depend on the advice we get from the state, the NAR and the Park District. We'll try to keep everyone informed as our plans become clearer.

-----

Greg Smith  N9LHI
NAR 15881 * TRA 1974
Director of Operations, Central Illinois Aerospace
greg@...  217-840-1678


Re: More Space movies on youtube

Greg Smith
 

Oh, my, I watched it on your recommendation. Totally awful, but worth it for the laughs.

 

I do wish I had access to the electronic surplus store where they evidently bought all the “instruments” for their “control panels.” They had a lot of interesting switches, knobs, lights and meters there.

 

- GDS

 

 

 

From: cia-rocketry@groups.io [mailto:cia-rocketry@groups.io] On Behalf Of Gary Slater
Sent: Tuesday, March 24, 2020 12:58 PM
To: cia-rocketry@groups.io
Subject: [cia-rocketry] More Space movies on youtube

 

Just finished watching perhaps one of the cheesiest movies ever,
“Space Probe Taurus”
which was made in 1965. It’s available without interruption on youtube and is about 80 minutes long.

Guess I’ll watch “Assignment OuterSpace” and “First Spaceship on Venus” next.


More Space movies on youtube

Gary Slater
 

Just finished watching perhaps one of the cheesiest movies ever,
“Space Probe Taurus”
which was made in 1965. It’s available without interruption on youtube and is about 80 minutes long.

Guess I’ll watch “Assignment OuterSpace” and “First Spaceship on Venus” next.


Re: Rocketry Manufacturer's Forum From NARCON 2020 (video)

john hall
 

this is a great video Gary, thanks for sharing.  John Hall

On Thursday, 19 March 2020, 1:54:50 pm GMT-5, Gary Slater <gws77@...> wrote:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWR2XOV5pHo


Re: While you're cooped up ...

M
 

Thanks guys… good stuff!

 

Mike Z

 

From: cia-rocketry@groups.io [mailto:cia-rocketry@groups.io] On Behalf Of Jonathan Sivier
Sent: Sunday, March 22, 2020 2:03 PM
To: cia-rocketry@groups.io
Subject: Re: [cia-rocketry] While you're cooped up ...

 

Another, updated version in color, can be seen at

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZRsSd0ismU&list=PL2965Gzj6Ru9UypCIjPRbvUFU6Qc4WiVA&index=2&t=0s

This and more can be found on the NAR Youtube channel at

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCscXnrq6Hi9gT6ZMPw1mUeA

Jonathan

On 3/22/2020 1:58 PM, Jonathan Sivier wrote:

OK. Not as long as I thought I had seen it listed, and not the same blurb that I recall seeing. I guess my memory is starting to go. ;-)

Jonathan

On 3/22/2020 1:55 PM, Greg Smith wrote:

And here it is:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NpgEsyqjWQ

- GDS

*From:*cia-rocketry@groups.io [mailto:cia-rocketry@groups.io] *On Behalf Of *Greg Smith
*Sent:* Sunday, March 22, 2020 1:53 PM
*To:* cia-rocketry@groups.io
*Subject:* Re: [cia-rocketry] While you're cooped up ...

It could have been “Model Rocketry – The Space Age Hobby” or something like that.

- GDS

*From:*cia-rocketry@groups.io <mailto:cia-rocketry@groups.io> [mailto:cia-rocketry@groups.io] *On Behalf Of *Jonathan Sivier
*Sent:* Sunday, March 22, 2020 1:47 PM
*To:* cia-rocketry@groups.io <mailto:cia-rocketry@groups.io>
*Subject:* Re: [cia-rocketry] While you're cooped up ...

Do you remember the name of the film. I'm pretty sure I came across a Youtube page with what sounds like that film on it in the past few weeks. I thought I had bookmarked it, but it seems like I failed to do so My attempts to search for it based on what little I remembered have failed so far. Perhaps you would have better luck, since you have more knowledge of the film.

Jonathan


Re: While you're cooped up ...

Jonathan Sivier
 

It looks like the 2 versions of the film are basically the same, except the one on the NAR channel is in color and has different titles. One of the launchers with the launch towers is painted red.

Jonathan


On 3/22/2020 2:15 PM, Greg Smith wrote:
I saw two different versions in the movie, but yes, I still have the one that has a tower on each end. I will have to drag it out to a launch again some time. (No idea if it still works electrically, but it looks neat.)

- GDS

*From:*cia-rocketry@groups.io [mailto:cia-rocketry@groups.io] *On Behalf Of *Jonathan Sivier
*Sent:* Sunday, March 22, 2020 2:06 PM
*To:* cia-rocketry@groups.io
*Subject:* Re: [cia-rocketry] While you're cooped up ...

Is the launch pad shown there, a sawhorse pad with a launch tower on each end, the one that you had at one time?

Jonathan

_._,_


Re: While you're cooped up ...

Greg Smith
 

I saw two different versions in the movie, but yes, I still have the one that has a tower on each end. I will have to drag it out to a launch again some time. (No idea if it still works electrically, but it looks neat.)

 

- GDS

 

 

 

From: cia-rocketry@groups.io [mailto:cia-rocketry@groups.io] On Behalf Of Jonathan Sivier
Sent: Sunday, March 22, 2020 2:06 PM
To: cia-rocketry@groups.io
Subject: Re: [cia-rocketry] While you're cooped up ...

 

Is the launch pad shown there, a sawhorse pad with a launch tower on each end, the one that you had at one time?

Jonathan

_._,_


Re: While you're cooped up ...

Jonathan Sivier
 

Is the launch pad shown there, a sawhorse pad with a launch tower on each end, the one that you had at one time?

Jonathan


On 3/22/2020 1:55 PM, Greg Smith wrote:
And here it is:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NpgEsyqjWQ

- GDS

*From:*cia-rocketry@groups.io [mailto:cia-rocketry@groups.io] *On Behalf Of *Greg Smith
*Sent:* Sunday, March 22, 2020 1:53 PM
*To:* cia-rocketry@groups.io
*Subject:* Re: [cia-rocketry] While you're cooped up ...

It could have been “Model Rocketry – The Space Age Hobby” or something like that.

- GDS

*From:*cia-rocketry@groups.io <mailto:cia-rocketry@groups.io> [mailto:cia-rocketry@groups.io] *On Behalf Of *Jonathan Sivier
*Sent:* Sunday, March 22, 2020 1:47 PM
*To:* cia-rocketry@groups.io <mailto:cia-rocketry@groups.io>
*Subject:* Re: [cia-rocketry] While you're cooped up ...

Do you remember the name of the film. I'm pretty sure I came across a Youtube page with what sounds like that film on it in the past few weeks. I thought I had bookmarked it, but it seems like I failed to do so. My attempts to search for it based on what little I remembered have failed so far. Perhaps you would have better luck, since you have more knowledge of the film.

Jonathan


Re: While you're cooped up ...

Jonathan Sivier
 

Another, updated version in color, can be seen at

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZRsSd0ismU&list=PL2965Gzj6Ru9UypCIjPRbvUFU6Qc4WiVA&index=2&t=0s

This and more can be found on the NAR Youtube channel at

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCscXnrq6Hi9gT6ZMPw1mUeA

Jonathan


On 3/22/2020 1:58 PM, Jonathan Sivier wrote:
OK. Not as long as I thought I had seen it listed, and not the same blurb that I recall seeing. I guess my memory is starting to go. ;-)

Jonathan

On 3/22/2020 1:55 PM, Greg Smith wrote:

And here it is:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NpgEsyqjWQ

- GDS

*From:*cia-rocketry@groups.io [mailto:cia-rocketry@groups.io] *On Behalf Of *Greg Smith
*Sent:* Sunday, March 22, 2020 1:53 PM
*To:* cia-rocketry@groups.io
*Subject:* Re: [cia-rocketry] While you're cooped up ...

It could have been “Model Rocketry – The Space Age Hobby” or something like that.

- GDS

*From:*cia-rocketry@groups.io <mailto:cia-rocketry@groups.io> [mailto:cia-rocketry@groups.io] *On Behalf Of *Jonathan Sivier
*Sent:* Sunday, March 22, 2020 1:47 PM
*To:* cia-rocketry@groups.io <mailto:cia-rocketry@groups.io>
*Subject:* Re: [cia-rocketry] While you're cooped up ...

Do you remember the name of the film. I'm pretty sure I came across a Youtube page with what sounds like that film on it in the past few weeks. I thought I had bookmarked it, but it seems like I failed to do so. My attempts to search for it based on what little I remembered have failed so far. Perhaps you would have better luck, since you have more knowledge of the film.

Jonathan


Re: While you're cooped up ...

Jonathan Sivier
 

OK. Not as long as I thought I had seen it listed, and not the same blurb that I recall seeing. I guess my memory is starting to go. ;-)

Jonathan


On 3/22/2020 1:55 PM, Greg Smith wrote:
And here it is:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NpgEsyqjWQ

- GDS

*From:*cia-rocketry@groups.io [mailto:cia-rocketry@groups.io] *On Behalf Of *Greg Smith
*Sent:* Sunday, March 22, 2020 1:53 PM
*To:* cia-rocketry@groups.io
*Subject:* Re: [cia-rocketry] While you're cooped up ...

It could have been “Model Rocketry – The Space Age Hobby” or something like that.

- GDS

*From:*cia-rocketry@groups.io <mailto:cia-rocketry@groups.io> [mailto:cia-rocketry@groups.io] *On Behalf Of *Jonathan Sivier
*Sent:* Sunday, March 22, 2020 1:47 PM
*To:* cia-rocketry@groups.io <mailto:cia-rocketry@groups.io>
*Subject:* Re: [cia-rocketry] While you're cooped up ...

Do you remember the name of the film. I'm pretty sure I came across a Youtube page with what sounds like that film on it in the past few weeks. I thought I had bookmarked it, but it seems like I failed to do so. My attempts to search for it based on what little I remembered have failed so far. Perhaps you would have better luck, since you have more knowledge of the film.

Jonathan


Re: While you're cooped up ...

Greg Smith
 

And here it is:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NpgEsyqjWQ

 

- GDS

 

 

 

From: cia-rocketry@groups.io [mailto:cia-rocketry@groups.io] On Behalf Of Greg Smith
Sent: Sunday, March 22, 2020 1:53 PM
To: cia-rocketry@groups.io
Subject: Re: [cia-rocketry] While you're cooped up ...

 

It could have been “Model Rocketry – The Space Age Hobby” or something like that.

 

- GDS

 

 

 

From: cia-rocketry@groups.io [mailto:cia-rocketry@groups.io] On Behalf Of Jonathan Sivier
Sent: Sunday, March 22, 2020 1:47 PM
To: cia-rocketry@groups.io
Subject: Re: [cia-rocketry] While you're cooped up ...

 

Do you remember the name of the film. I'm pretty sure I came across a Youtube page with what sounds like that film on it in the past few weeks. I thought I had bookmarked it, but it seems like I failed to do so. My attempts to search for it based on what little I remembered have failed so far. Perhaps you would have better luck, since you have more knowledge of the film.

Jonathan


Re: While you're cooped up ...

Greg Smith
 

It could have been “Model Rocketry – The Space Age Hobby” or something like that.

 

- GDS

 

 

 

From: cia-rocketry@groups.io [mailto:cia-rocketry@groups.io] On Behalf Of Jonathan Sivier
Sent: Sunday, March 22, 2020 1:47 PM
To: cia-rocketry@groups.io
Subject: Re: [cia-rocketry] While you're cooped up ...

 

Do you remember the name of the film. I'm pretty sure I came across a Youtube page with what sounds like that film on it in the past few weeks. I thought I had bookmarked it, but it seems like I failed to do so. My attempts to search for it based on what little I remembered have failed so far. Perhaps you would have better luck, since you have more knowledge of the film.

Jonathan


Re: While you're cooped up ...

Jonathan Sivier
 

Do you remember the name of the film. I'm pretty sure I came across a Youtube page with what sounds like that film on it in the past few weeks. I thought I had bookmarked it, but it seems like I failed to do so. My attempts to search for it based on what little I remembered have failed so far. Perhaps you would have better luck, since you have more knowledge of the film.

Jonathan


On 3/22/2020 1:38 PM, Greg Smith wrote:
Yes – I actually had a small part in the history of that film. G. Harry used his influence with the Air Force to have one of their film production units come out and shoot at some launches around Denver (including one of the first couple of NARAMs) and put together a movie promoting the hobby with the premise of it being the next big step forward in model aviation. (I’m sure the idea that this might also help promote sales for his Model Missiles company never occurred to him.) That was in the same time period as the X-15 feature, around 1960-’61. It was all silent footage with added music and narration, like a typical USAF training film in those days. My recollection is that it was more like 15 – 20 minutes long. I was always amused that those professional cameramen couldn’t do any better of a job than the rest of us at following the rocket liftoffs with the camera.

The film lay forgotten for about 15 years. In the mid ‘70s, I got myself elected to the old LAC (Leader Administrative Council) and made it my project to build up a lending library of films and other AV materials documenting rocketry activities and history. Our main product was a slide show (with actual slides, and a cassette tape with narration and beeps) introducing model rocketry of which I duplicated maybe a hundred copies over the years.  But I also tracked down what I believe was the only surviving print of the Stine film at that time, and so for several years, had it on a reel of 16mm here at my house! I watched it a few times and remember thinking that it looked pretty dated even at that time. Both rocketry and filmmaking changed a lot between 1960 and 1980. I eventually shut down the film library and sent all the materials I had to the NARTS chairman, so I don’t have it anymore, and I have no idea where it’s gone since then. I hope somebody has, or will, put it up on
YouTube at some point.

The one Randy found is a newer production and not the same, but also interesting. I’ll try to look and see if the older movie is anywhere to be found now.

- GDS

*From:*cia-rocketry@groups.io [mailto:cia-rocketry@groups.io] *On Behalf Of *Jonathan Sivier
*Sent:* Sunday, March 22, 2020 12:12 PM
*To:* cia-rocketry@groups.io
*Subject:* Re: [cia-rocketry] While you're cooped up ...

I hope everyone is well and bearing up under solitary confinement. Looking out the window just now I see snow coming down.

I thought I had another video on Youtube to recommend, but I can't seem to find it now. My recollection was that it was a movie made by G. Harry Stine about the early days of model rocketry. I seem to recall it was like an hour long, but I could be mistaken about that. I also seem to recall that in the blurb it said something about him thanking the Air Force for their assistance. Has anyone else come across a video like this or am I just imagining it?

Jonathan


Re: While you're cooped up ...

Greg Smith
 

Yes – I actually had a small part in the history of that film. G. Harry used his influence with the Air Force to have one of their film production units come out and shoot at some launches around Denver (including one of the first couple of NARAMs) and put together a movie promoting the hobby with the premise of it being the next big step forward in model aviation. (I’m sure the idea that this might also help promote sales for his Model Missiles company never occurred to him.) That was in the same time period as the X-15 feature, around 1960-’61. It was all silent footage with added music and narration, like a typical USAF training film in those days. My recollection is that it was more like 15 – 20 minutes long. I was always amused that those professional cameramen couldn’t do any better of a job than the rest of us at following the rocket liftoffs with the camera.

 

The film lay forgotten for about 15 years. In the mid ‘70s, I got myself elected to the old LAC (Leader Administrative Council) and made it my project to build up a lending library of films and other AV materials documenting rocketry activities and history. Our main product was a slide show (with actual slides, and a cassette tape with narration and beeps) introducing model rocketry of which I duplicated maybe a hundred copies over the years.  But I also tracked down what I believe was the only surviving print of the Stine film at that time, and so for several years, had it on a reel of 16mm here at my house! I watched it a few times and remember thinking that it looked pretty dated even at that time. Both rocketry and filmmaking changed a lot between 1960 and 1980. I eventually shut down the film library and sent all the materials I had to the NARTS chairman, so I don’t have it anymore, and I have no idea where it’s gone since then. I hope somebody has, or will, put it up on YouTube at some point.

 

The one Randy found is a newer production and not the same, but also interesting. I’ll try to look and see if the older movie is anywhere to be found now.

 

- GDS

 

 

 

From: cia-rocketry@groups.io [mailto:cia-rocketry@groups.io] On Behalf Of Jonathan Sivier
Sent: Sunday, March 22, 2020 12:12 PM
To: cia-rocketry@groups.io
Subject: Re: [cia-rocketry] While you're cooped up ...

 

I hope everyone is well and bearing up under solitary confinement. Looking out the window just now I see snow coming down.

I thought I had another video on Youtube to recommend, but I can't seem to find it now. My recollection was that it was a movie made by G. Harry Stine about the early days of model rocketry. I seem to recall it was like an hour long, but I could be mistaken about that. I also seem to recall that in the blurb it said something about him thanking the Air Force for their assistance. Has anyone else come across a video like this or am I just imagining it?

Jonathan


Re: While you're cooped up ...

Jonathan Sivier
 

That doesn't seem like the one I was thinking of, but as I said I could be mistaken about it.

Jonathan


On 3/22/2020 12:50 PM, Randy Milliken wrote:
This one?

https://youtu.be/yXmpnknOOlc


On Mar 22, 2020 at 1:13 PM, Jonathan Sivier <jsivier@... <mailto:jsivier@...>> wrote:

I hope everyone is well and bearing up under solitary confinement. Looking out the window just now I see snow coming down.

I thought I had another video on Youtube to recommend, but I can't seem to find it now. My recollection was that it was a movie made by G. Harry Stine about the early days of model rocketry. I seem to recall it was like an hour long, but I could be mistaken about that. I also seem to recall that in the blurb it said something about him thanking the Air Force for their assistance. Has anyone else come across a video like this or am I just imagining it?

Jonathan

On 3/22/2020 10:13 AM, Greg Smith wrote:

A full version of the 1961 feature film “X-15” is available on YouTube (in glorious standard definition):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yhrv1EFbQIw <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yhrv1EFbQIw&fbclid=IwAR14MWRtV4XcqLIoMA21fGrD-M7dcA9l_mKJehyhVerS_Bg8JGz8125Nayg>

It was the first feature directed by Richard Donner, who later went on to more prestigious projects like the 1978 “Superman” with Christopher Reeve, and the “Lethal Weapon” movies. (He also directed the famous “Twilight Zone” episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” with William Shatner.)

The cast includes a couple of then-unknowns who later became recognizable, especially Charles Bronson and Mary Tyler Moore. The opening and closing narration was by Jimmy Stewart. You’ll also see and hear a lot of familiar supporting actors.

This thing doesn’t have much of a plot, but it makes an interesting comparison to “The Right Stuff” in its portrayal of the private and professional lives of the pilots and their families, the relationship of the program with the press, and of course the flying sequences. They used a lot of real NASA footage to good effect (although I don’t understand why they messed with the aspect ratio on many of the flight films – it’s distracting). There’s also some extremely cheesy animated footage in a couple of places. I guess CGI wasn’t very good back then.  :-)  The ending seems particularly abrupt and doesn’t reach much of a conclusion. They hadn’t discovered the art of the long closing credit roll in those days. They obviously had a great deal of cooperation from NASA on the production, and I didn’t see any really egregious technical errors. You should also compare it to the opening sequence of “First Man.”

The portrayal of the women and their treatment by the men in general is absolutely hair-raising by contemporary social standards. It makes “Mad Men” seem positively enlightened. I did enjoy all the vintage clothes, cars, interior design and analog equipment in the control rooms. Hard to believe this was all actually within my lifetime.

I have read a lot about the X-15 project and have a couple of very good books about it. Although loosely based on some real events and with lots of pictures of the birds in flight, I honestly can’t say I learned anything new about the history or science from watching it, but as a sort of time capsule view of 1961 culture and technology, it was fun to see.

It is no work of art but it’s worth a couple of hours of your time while waiting for your test results to come back from the lab.

- GDS


Re: While you're cooped up ...

Randy Milliken
 

This one?  

https://youtu.be/yXmpnknOOlc


On Mar 22, 2020 at 1:13 PM, Jonathan Sivier <jsivier@...> wrote:

I hope everyone is well and bearing up under solitary confinement. Looking out the window just now I see snow coming down.

I thought I had another video on Youtube to recommend, but I can't seem to find it now. My recollection was that it was a movie made by G. Harry Stine about the early days of model rocketry. I seem to recall it was like an hour long, but I could be mistaken about that. I also seem to recall that in the blurb it said something about him thanking the Air Force for their assistance. Has anyone else come across a video like this or am I just imagining it?

Jonathan

On 3/22/2020 10:13 AM, Greg Smith wrote:
A full version of the 1961 feature film “X-15” is available on YouTube (in glorious standard definition):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yhrv1EFbQIw <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yhrv1EFbQIw&fbclid=IwAR14MWRtV4XcqLIoMA21fGrD-M7dcA9l_mKJehyhVerS_Bg8JGz8125Nayg>

It was the first feature directed by Richard Donner, who later went on to more prestigious projects like the 1978 “Superman” with Christopher Reeve, and the “Lethal Weapon” movies. (He also directed the famous “Twilight Zone” episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” with William Shatner.)

The cast includes a couple of then-unknowns who later became recognizable, especially Charles Bronson and Mary Tyler Moore. The opening and closing narration was by Jimmy Stewart. You’ll also see and hear a lot of familiar supporting actors.

This thing doesn’t have much of a plot, but it makes an interesting comparison to “The Right Stuff” in its portrayal of the private and professional lives of the pilots and their families, the relationship of the program with the press, and of course the flying sequences. They used a lot of real NASA footage to good effect (although I don’t understand why they messed with the aspect ratio on many of the flight films – it’s distracting). There’s also some extremely cheesy animated footage in a couple of places. I guess CGI wasn’t very good back then.  :-)  The ending seems particularly abrupt and doesn’t reach much of a conclusion. They hadn’t discovered the art of the long closing credit roll in those days. They obviously had a great deal of cooperation from NASA on the production, and I didn’t see any really egregious technical errors. You should also compare it to the opening sequence of “First Man.”

The portrayal of the women and their treatment by the men in general is absolutely hair-raising by contemporary social standards. It makes “Mad Men” seem positively enlightened. I did enjoy all the vintage clothes, cars, interior design and analog equipment in the control rooms. Hard to believe this was all actually within my lifetime.

I have read a lot about the X-15 project and have a couple of very good books about it. Although loosely based on some real events and with lots of pictures of the birds in flight, I honestly can’t say I learned anything new about the history or science from watching it, but as a sort of time capsule view of 1961 culture and technology, it was fun to see.

It is no work of art but it’s worth a couple of hours of your time while waiting for your test results to come back from the lab.

- GDS


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