Wed, Jul 30, 2008
This Is Gonna Be Awesome...
Afternoon thunderstorms threatened... but held off long enough
for the first public demonstration flight of a rocket racer at
Just after 2:30pm Central Daylight Time, the DKNY Bridenstine
Rocket Racer lifted off from Wittman Regional Airport with former
NASA astronaut Rick Searfoss at the controls. Constrained by low
ceilings, Searfoss nevertheless gave the AirVenture crowd a good
look at the speed, sound and fiery tail that will characterize this
With PA system commentary provided by Rocket Racing League CEO
Granger Whitelaw, Searfoss put the XCOR-powered Velocity canard
through graceful climbs and arcs in the sky, helping onlookers to
imagine what it will be like when they can follow along on giant
video screens which display the virtual course gates competitors
will see in actual races.
The crowd responded with applause, and an occasional giggle when
the XCOR engine made its characteristic "toot" at shutdown. The
racers carry only four minutes of fuel, so periods of gliding,
punctuated by raucous in-flight restarts, will be part of the
rocket racing excitement.
The demonstration ended in a clean dead-stick landing, and
AirVenture attendees walked away from the flightline discussing
what they'd just seen.
The demo also marked the first public glimpse at new designer
flight suits and team apparel from DKNY Men. The Bridenstine racer
is the first team to secure corporate sponsorship.
The rocket racer will fly again Friday and Saturday at 2:30 pm
both days, to open the airshow.
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