In 1957, ”Eagle Scout Jimmy Blackmon of Charlotte, NC, startled Army Rocket experts when he explained that the nose cone of his six-foot rocket was a five dollar metal lampshade. Although 17-year old Jimmy’s plans to fire the missile on a farm was balked by CAA rules, the project did win him the American Rocket Society $1,000 Science Youth Award. ”
Jimmy Blackmon also met Dr. Von Braun who was inspired by him to promote education for American youth. “Von Braun couldn’t forget Jimmy Blackmon and as Chairman of the American Rocket Society’s Membership Committee, he was constantly confronted with the problem of how to help the nation’s youth (1).”
We are proud to have Dr. Jimmy Blackmon on the staff of the UAH Propulsion Research Center. His constant enthusiasm was an inspiration to Dr. Von Braun and is also an inspiration to all of the faculty, staff, and students of the UAH Propulsion Research Center. It also seems surreal that Popular Science would visit UAH over 50 years later and recognize the UAH Propulsion Research Center as the 3rd most awesome university laboratory in the nation. This recognition was largely due to the enthusiasm of our young engineers, who like Jimmy Blackmon, are expressing their creativity and enthusiasm for science and engineering by building sounding rockets in the NASA University Student Launch Initiative.
(1) Wernher von Braun: the authoritative and definitive biographical profile of the father of modern space flight