Model rockets blasting off here this weekend

A 9.6-foot scratch-built rocket named “Tweety Bird” is shown launching and could be one of the featured rockets here this weekend. It’s expected altitude is 9000 feet. Courtesy photo

ALAMOSA– Rocketry enthusiasts from across the west and beyond will flock to the San Luis Valley this weekend for the 2024 National Sport Launch West three-day model rocketry event Saturday through Monday, May 25-27.

This will be the second of three consecutive years the event will be held here, after an inaugural launch in 2021, all endorsed by the National Association of Rocketry.

The event site is southwest of Alamosa and will be hosted by the San Luis Valley Rocketeers. Spectators should take U.S. 285 south out of Alamosa to the 12 South, turn west for 10 miles and follow the signs. Flights will begin at 8 a.m. daily and continue through 4 p.m Saturday and Sunday, closing at 2 p.m. on Monday.

Matt Abbey, one of the sponsors of the local club, said early bookings for the event are climbing, noting that “our little local club has established the San Luis Valley as the premier launch site in the west.”

The launch site received some upgrades last year and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) raised the flying ceiling here to 52,000 feet above ground level. The local club last hosted the event last year bringing hundreds of visitors to the SLV and Abbey said the 2024 launch will follow a similar format.

The club will again host local youth who want to show up and fly a rocket for free in the “fly it, take it” offer, where youth are given a rocket and engine and some training to fly it before eventually going home with the rocket.

Estes Rockets of Penrose, Colo. sponsors the event and expects to have 300 rockets available to local youth.

NSL West-2024 is hosted by the San Luis Valley Rocketeers, “where our main goal is to pay it forward and expand the hobby through younger generations. Our club hosts a regular launch on the second Saturday of every month during the summer. We also have an extensive youth outreach program, so watch for kids and first-timers at the event,” according to a web site promoting the event.