This year will be my 26th year involved in hobby rocketry! Needless to say it is my favorite hobby! These are actual flying rockets that fly on safe, pre-manufactured rocket motors and return safely to Earth on parachutes where they can be prepared and flown over and over again. There are basically two main categories of hobby rocketry--Model Rocketry and High-Power Rocketry, and I enjoy them both immensely. The real main difference between the two is the size of the models and the power of the rocket motors that lift them into the air. Model Rocketry is easily accessable to everyone-- local hobby shops are filled with a myriad of kits of different sizes and types whereas High-Power kits and motors are generally sold through dealers at club launches and through mail order. High-Power rocketry, because of the size, weight, and power of the models involved, require F.A.A. waivers to fly, a lot of open space, a larger pocketbook and you must be "certified" to fly them. Several national hobby rocketry organizations have programs in place where you can obtain your certification to fly higher-power rockets, the National Association of Rocketry and the Tripoli Rocketry Association, both of which I am a member and will absolutely recommend to anyone seriously interested in hobby rocketry of any type.
The National Association of Rocketry (NAR) publishes Sport Rocketry magazine, and has been serving the hobby rocketry community for almost 40 years. They sponsor a National Sport Launch and a national week-long competition (NARAM) each year. The NAR also sponsors smaller clubs across the country, called sections--there may be one near you! There are many more services they provide, like high-power certification and flying insurance, scale plans, a wealth of rocketry information through NARTS and so much more. The best way to find out more about the NAR is to follow this link to their homepage at www.nar.org!
The Tripoli Rocketry Association (TRA or Tripoli) is the national organization dedicated to high power rocketry. They sponsor a yearly national high-power rocket launch, LDRS, and publish High Power Rocketry, a nice magazine dedicated to all types of hobby rocketry with special emphasis on high-power. They, like the NAR, also have local clubs across the nation, called Prefectures. The best way to find out more is to pick up a copy of High Power Rocketry at your local hobby shop or Barnes and Noble bookstore, or follow this link to find out more at www.tripoli.org!