KNIEVEL - TEST ROCKET
Evel Knievel SkyCycle X-1 Snake River flown Test Rocket
This was built and flown by Doug Malewicki, the inventor/engineer of the SkyCycle X-1, who worked with Evel Knievel, the internationally renowned daredevil and famed LAST GLADIATOR from 1968 through 1973. On December 16, 2007 this TEST ROCKET sold for $4,950.00 on eBay!
It is one of three sub-scale test rockets that was successfully flown across the Snake River Canyon on May 6, 1972, 35.5 years ago! All three were built by Malewicki for the purpose of verifying the trajectory computer software for the full size SkyCycle X-1.
The rocket test model is 21" long and was powered by
a Flite Systems "F-100" solid propellant rocket motor.
The first rocket was launched at a precise 28 degree angle that according to the software simulation should have it hitting the opposite corner of the far rim of the Snake River canyon - a span of 1,580 feet according to the topological maps. It sure looked more like a mile across when standing at the rim that day! The flight followed a perfect ballistic path and much to my delight it looked liked it was going to actually impact the corner lip as desired when the parachute was ejected. It then floated down and snagged on the canyon wall about 50 feet below the lip. That launch nicely confirmed that the software written by my long term friend, Bruce Williams, represented all the physics properly and could be scaled up for use with the full size SkyCycle X-1 with confidence.
The nose cone of the second rocket was replaced with a special Super 8 high speed camera in hopes of obtaining rear ward looking movies of the next flight that could be useful for Evel's ongoing PR efforts. Number 2 was launched at a 45 degree angle in order to maximize range. Unfortunately, when the parachute was deployed, the test rocket was well past the far canyon rim while near horizontal and traveling at a very high speed. The parachute was ripped right off the instant it inflated. Ooops!
For the test flight of the third rocket, I decided to leave off the heavy and expensive spare movie camera payload and launch this bird at the same optimum range 45 degree angle. From our viewpoint we could barely see that the parachute deployed and it appeared to be gently floating down to earth way past the far rim of the canyon. Great flight! About 3 hours later a man and is young son showed up back on our launch side of the Snake River Canyon with the recovered rocket and gave it to me. A very nice gesture.
The story goes on... 8 or so years ago a resident of Twin Falls found my website and emailed me to tell me he was the young son (now all grown up) who returned the #3 rocket and that he and his dad went back to the other side and also recovered a second test rocket that he kept as a prized possession all these years. I couldn't believe it until he emailed me photos and sent me a local Twin Falls news story. His test rocket was missing the front wheel - otherwise it was in great shape.
As you can see in these photos, this now 35.5 year old test rocket is no longer a pristine Franklin Mint quality model. That is exactly how it was sold in order to maintain its authenticity and it was not retouched or repainted.
35.5 years later - Doug in color compared to young Doug Malewicki & Evel Knievel on May 6, 1972. Evel's future destination is the other side of the Snake River Canyon seen here. "Evel, ready to find out if Sir Isaac Newton's laws of motion are valid?"
(Dig my groovy 1970's striped pants and Evel's striped shirt! One of the questions I had from a potential eBay customer was "How much for the striped pants?" My answer HERE - some good laughs with good pictures!)
This is a photo of the launch of #3.
Evel is ready to push the electric ignition button. (I can tell it is #3
because of the 45 degree launch angle and the fact that it does not have the
extended movie camera nose cone installed.)
This is a photo of the second test rocket right at the instant lift off. (I can tell because it was the only flight WITH the onboard movie camera.) Note all the debris kicked up by the supersonic exhaust.
I am just 6 months younger than Evel and essentially am starting to clean house. I have done a lot of other "creative" technical projects since those days and my souvenir collection is getting overwhelming. Better to get some of it into the hands of people who will treasure it rather than have the goodies unknowingly tossed in the trash once I am gone. May Evel rest in peace.
Here is another example of an upcoming house cleaning. On Saturday January 19, 2008 my patented Robosaurus invention - the 40 foot tall, 31 ton, fire-breathing electro-hydro-mechanical TRANSFORMING monster robot that has been thrilling crowds for 18 years will be a featured item at the at the famed Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Doug included a letter of authentication for the test rocket that also describes its technical purpose. The base was autographed for the winner by Doug.
Monday, December 10, 2007 - Since my eBay reserve was met on both Evel Knievel models, I decided to build a proper DISPLAY STAND for each. The stands are made of top quality OAK (Weyerhaeuser ChoiceWoodTM). The support rod is clear Plexiglas with a foam lined cradle to support the models in simulated flight. The oak was stained and hand rubbed and polished with carnauba wax once allowed to properly dry. I also added an engraved plaque to go on the base of each model. These are approximately 2" by 4". The shipping boxes have a screw down lid, so will be reusable and worth saving to store or carry the model.
Note: Looking at these photos, it appears both models are pristine and like new. Not true. Lots of little dings and chips that don't show up in these photos. The display PR model looks white here, but in reality it has yellowed somewhat over the years.
Saturday December 15, 2007 - I built sturdy wood shipping boxes for the two Evel Knievel models that I auctioned on eBay. Both boxes have an internal framework made of 3/4" by 3/4" wood strips. 3/16" skins were then glued and screwed to this framework. The 3/16" plywood lid is removable and held down with 10 screws. Contoured foam blocks fully support each model top and bottom plus fore and aft. You can see the box was sized so the stained and polished oak base nests perfectly in the bottom of its shipping box. The model base is also supported in 1/8" thick foam. Note that the foam blocks that support the model are inserted after the base is placed in the bottom. Those blocks trap the base. Lastly, the clear Plexiglas rod are wrapped in bubble pack to prevent it from bouncing around and scratching the models.
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