Posted May 24, 2013 — Almost two dozen rockets soared into the Papillion sky Tuesday (May 21st) on their debut flights, in an event that marked the year's final Pack meeting for the Carriage Hill Elementary-based Cub Scouts Pack 463.

Built by the Scouts themselves (with assistance from their parents), the Estes model rockets were single-stage boosters launched from four Porta-Pad II launch pads situated at the northeast corner of Papillion's Halleck Park test flight facility. They began roaring to life at 6:30 p.m. CST (0030 GMT) amidst borderline weather conditions.

Overcast skies and winds of 13 to 16 mph threatened to force a delay, but Mother Nature cooperated for Tuesday's launch, clearing away some of the clouds about an hour before sunset. The result was an amazing show with apparently no significant glitches aside from a few easily-remedied mechanical failures.

Scouts broke out in cheers at every successful liftoff. Then came shouts of delight as groups of them tore off across the field to aid in recovery efforts.

The launches were visible from locations all along the east side of Halleck Park, from 1st Street to 72nd Street.

An unidentified Scout prepares to launch his MITI rocket.

At their regular Cub Scouts meeting a week earlier, den leaders awarded each Scout a kit from an Estes Make It - Take It Educator Pack, to assemble and decorate at home. Tom Berry, who is the pack's Webelos den leader and rocket program manager said that providing rockets for the Scouts is vital since it assures each boy the opportunity to participate.

"This is a new way of doing rockets with our Scouts, and with any new investment, there is some risk," Berry said. "But it sure is nice to see a return on that investment when things go your way. I think this was a great day for everyone involved."

"This is the culmination of a plan that we've had all year, since even before our first Leaders' meeting back in September," Berry told reporters after the successful launchings.

Berry made it clear that Tuesday's flights were tests, and that they could fail. "It's a learning experience. We definitely learned that bigger is not always better. Some of the rockets were - a bit overpowered."

Descending under their parachutes in the breezy sky, many of the rockets drifted so far off course as to be unrecoverable, he explained. "A couple just disappeared into the clouds, never to be seen again."

"Regardless of the heavy losses, it looks like all the expectations we had for today were met," Berry said. "Most importantly, the kids all seemed to have a good time."

With the test flights complete, Pack 463 is looking forward to another launch. At the very least, it could become an annual event.

"This is not a one-shot deal," Berry said. "We're going to do this again."

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