Australian Youth Rocketry Challenge Inc.

AYRC 2011 = Best Rocketry Challenge Yet!

Australia Youth Rocketry Challenge Contestants 2010

After a magnificent sunrise, it was 6am, 2 degrees Celsius and frost on the ground. The Australian Youth Rocketry Challenge (AYRC) team of dedicated helpers sprung into action to set up the site for what was destined to be yet another amazing event.

It almost seemed right on cue… clear blue skies, banners flapping in the gentle breeze and the range almost completely set up, the massive golden 16 seater hot air balloon with a little jump makes its touchdown just next to the range. Unplanned, it was certainly a great way to start the day, making for some spectacular photos.

Having grown the challenge from last year and increased the contest criteria, all the teams arrived with a fantastic vibe of enthusiasm ready to fly their incredible rocket vehicles. Group leaders were kept busy with the many finer inspections and last minute adjustments to make sure rockets were safe and ready to launch.

As the launches started, the traditional August wind decided to rush through, throwing yet another variable in the equation of carrying the raw egg payload to the desired 750feet. The official eggs were individually labelled and handed to contestants who one by one rose to the challenge with a number of terrific flights. Unfortunately, even with many accurate and great flights, many teams quickly discovered that recovering an unbroken egg is not as easy as it sounds.

It was great to see so many students thinking outside the box with their innovative design techniques and willing to try unique ways to carry the delicate payloads. For many, this was the first time they had ever launched rockets and to really spice it up, using altimeters for the first time too made this fun challenge even more exciting.

Only two teams on the day managed to return a completely unbroken egg, which clearly set first and second places. Despite some hairline fractures, the battle for third came down to two teams whose eggs were still good enough to crack on the BBQ and eat for lunch. It goes without saying, the judges had much deliberation to work out third place.

With an altitude of 659feet, congratulations to Aviation High – Aviation Diamonds for taking out this year’s challenge. Beaudesert SPS – Beauy Beasts, after winning last year’s challenge, came second and Canterbury College – Year 12 secured third.

The primary school challenge was just as exciting with some impressive looking and performing rockets. It was great to see a number of all girls teams again this year breaking any stereotypical model of a male dominant field. This year the Beaudesert SPS – Beauy Beauties won the challenge after placing third in last year’s basic challenge. In second place was Beaudesert SPS – Beauy BFFs and Rochedale South SPS – Rainbow Rockets followed closely in third place.

As always, there is a number of demonstration flights. This year we flew a spool twice as it is always a crowd pleaser and definitely an interesting vehicle leaving the spectators full of curiosity before launching. A ¼ scale Patriot on a H250G and an AMRAAM4 on a J420R were flown as the L1 and L2 HPR demonstrations which both added another huge WOW factor to the day.

There was a lot to learn and with the hands on approach it seems there are a few budding rocket scientists in the making. Teams are already discussing how they would do things differently and are looking forward to next year’s challenge where they can fine tune their skills.

I would like to personally thank all of the wonderful sponsors and everyone who participated and helped on the day. It is because of all of you, that the Australian Youth Rocketry Challenge is so successful. Along with the success of each year’s challenge, it was exciting to also announce the news we received during the week that AYRC has been selected by the National Australian Library to be archived in Pandora, the Australia Heritage Archive. This is notably a huge part of history for rocketry in Australia and something that everyone should be proud of.

Planning for next year’s challenge has already begun and information will be released as early as October this year. I look forward to seeing even more teams next year for what is going to definitely be the biggest AYRC yet.

Blake Nikolic
Australian Youth Rocketry Challenge Inc.