Just days after launching New Zealand's biggest amateur rocket, the team behind Nike are still buzzing with success.

Ignition and lift-off for Nike Smoke - New Zealand's largest amateur built rocket - followed by a flawless flight and recovery. Photo Dean Taylor
Ignition and lift-off for Nike Smoke - New Zealand's largest amateur built rocket - followed by a flawless flight and recovery. Photo Dean Taylor

The Nike (for the record Nike is the Greek goddess of Goddess of speed, strength and victory) replicates NASA's Nike Smoke creation from the 1960s and is the work of Ethan Kosoof of Huntly, who is project manager, Dr Martin van Tiel and his wife Debbie of Taupiri, Chris North from Onewhero and Kelvin and Kim McVinnie from Te Pahū.

It is 6.5m tall, weights about 150kg and was built in the McVinnie's shed.

Walk of Awesomeness, with Kelvin McVinnie from right, followed by sponsor David Johnston. Photo Dean Taylor
Walk of Awesomeness, with Kelvin McVinnie from right, followed by sponsor David Johnston. Photo Dean Taylor

It didn't all quite go to plan for the team — if there had been a launch control centre the message would have been something like 'Houston, we have a problem'.

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But unlike the life-threatening issue with Apollo 13, Nike Smoke had a small technical issue with the ignition set-up which caused several false starts.

Team member Kelvin McVinnie from Te Pahū says it spoiled an otherwise 'mint' flight.

Team preparing Nike Smoke for launch. Photo Dean Taylor
Team preparing Nike Smoke for launch. Photo Dean Taylor

Issue corrected, Nike was launched about an hour after expected, but most of the 700+ crowd had stayed to see the climax of an excellent day out.

The New Zealand Rocketry Association's first international launch event was held at Orini on Sunday, and there were dozens of rocket launches culminating in the big event.

Rocket launch day at Orini. Photo Dean taylor
Rocket launch day at Orini. Photo Dean taylor

The McVinnies were to the fore. Kelvin opened the day when he launched his rocket Deep Purple to gain his Level 3 rocket pilot high power certification.

Helpers retrieve Kelvin McVinnie's Deep Purple after he successfully completed his Level 3 assessment flight. Photo Dean Purcell
Helpers retrieve Kelvin McVinnie's Deep Purple after he successfully completed his Level 3 assessment flight. Photo Dean Purcell

It involved designing and building a rocket with a high powered motor and numerous electronic devices, meeting numerous testing and simulation requirements, submitting paperwork to support the integrity of the design and build and, finally, successfully launching the rocket and recovering it in a fit state to be flown again.

Kelvin says he was rapt to have passed the level test and it gave him a lot of confidence for the rest of the day — although the entire team admitted being nervous about the big launch.

Kelvin's wife Kim launched her rocket Middle Earth later in the day, aiming for an altitude record for a class L motor.

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The previous record was about 10,000 feet — Kim's flight was about 15,000 feet subject to ratification.

Emily Hodge from Aerospace Educators helps young, and not-so-young, enthusiasts make a cardboard rocket to launch on the day. Photo Dean Taylor
Emily Hodge from Aerospace Educators helps young, and not-so-young, enthusiasts make a cardboard rocket to launch on the day. Photo Dean Taylor

Other launches included cardboard rockets made on the day by hoards of children, to various sized and powered rockets made by enthusiasts.
And it was exciting to watch — every rocket was different and there was an element of danger, especially when a parachute failed to deploy.

Jack Shaw , 13, from Grey Lynn waits his turn to launch his rocket. Photo Dean Purcell
Jack Shaw , 13, from Grey Lynn waits his turn to launch his rocket. Photo Dean Purcell

Warning hooters would have everyone looking skyward in case they had to dodge an incoming rocket, but they all managed to miss.


Speaking about the flight of Nike, Kelvin says it was perfect.

He says it was built as a crowd pleaser and it did that as well.

"The team will download the data and check the flight information, but on the day Nike did exactly as we expected," he says.

A selection of rockets at International Rocket Launch Day at Orini. Photo Dean Taylor
A selection of rockets at International Rocket Launch Day at Orini. Photo Dean Taylor

Also on hand to witness the flight were and David and Debbie Johnston from project sponsors Logic Wireless.

David says they were happy to be involved in the project, and while they weren't into rocketry previously, the enthusiasm of the people involved made it impossible not to get hooked.

Staff tackle a spot fire after a rocket launches from its launch pad. Photo Dean Purcell
Staff tackle a spot fire after a rocket launches from its launch pad. Photo Dean Purcell

Members of the New Zealand Rocketry Association get together to fire rockets monthly at Orini, with an annual public day.

This year that day was the culmination of an extended three-day Havoc in the Paddock event.

Kelvin says it was a great crowd as well, and they all played their part, leaving the site, which is donated land on a working farm, in excellent condition.

For more information on amateur rocketry check out www.nzrocketry.org.nz