UAH's Propulsion Research Center is preparing for its 25th anniversary next year, and the experimental roots of its faculty run even deeper. In 1956, 16-year-old Jimmy Blackmon did a very unusual thing for that time. He built a rocket from scratch in the basement of his home in Charlotte, N.C., predating even the well-known Homer Hickam and the Rocket Boys. The resulting news coverage got him on the radar screen of the nation's No. 1 rocket man, Dr. Wernher von Braun. Blackmon and his father, Bert Blackmon, spent three days in Huntsville with von Braun, General Toftoy, Army engineers and other officials as the rocketry pioneer mentored the teen. Now a UAH professor for 15 years, Dr. Jim Blackmon still has that original rocket he built as a teenager which, because a Federal Aviation Administration ruling and the admonitions of Dr. von Braun, he never flew – although a second iteration did successfully launch and fly. His design that used the nucleic cooling of ice keep engine temperatures down was never tested. But test firing a replica of that engine is something Dr. Blackmon still would like to see happen today.