My name is Mike Dorffler. Some of you know me, or know of me. I have been a model rocket kit designer with Estes Industries for nearly 40 years. I have over these years developed three camera systems, several launch controllers and launch pads, over 250 produced model rocket kits, several rocket motors, and several rocket related electronic items, all for this hobby we collectively enjoy. I have had lunch with Buzz Aldrin, Scott Carpenter, Joe Johnson and John Dyksta, Grant McQuen, and even Lee Van Cleef and Charlie Bronson, during the course of Estes business. I have made motors for movie special affects such as Firefox, aided in FBI criminal investigations, and even designed the model rocket launch system now in use at Space Camp.
I first started at Estes when the main plant at Penrose had just been completed and the parking area was still gravel. I worked with and helped build the company with Vern and Gleda, Bill Simon, Ed Brown, Gene Street, Wayne Kellner, Bill See and several other wonderful people and close friends. Over the years I have witnessed the many changes of management and ownership, and lived through the periods of company success and those of struggle.
As the time is approaching for me to exchange my modeling knives and body tubes for a fishing rod, I felt it might be worthwhile to offer to share my many experiences and rocketry knowledge base with the YORF forum members. With this post today I am opening the ďAsk MikeĒ forum for the purpose of offering you the opportunity to ask me anything you like related to Estes model rocketry history, model rocket kit development, kit designers, Estes personalities, or what happened when. Iíll share what we found worked and what didnít, why certain black powder types work for motors and why others donít, or even what manufacturing tolerances that must absolutely be maintained for certain components.
And then there is so much to tell about the intensity and incredible work ethic of the many people who I have had the pleasure of working with at Estes. These people are the ones responsible for bringing all of you the hobby of model rocketry in a way none of you have any concept of. Many are gone now but you should know about them. And then there are the antics of the R&D guys who purposely and shamefully tested the patience of Emma, our beloved custodian.
There is much Estes history to tell and for the YORF members to learn. This forum is therefore for you, the forum members to enjoy, and I hope all members eventually gravitate to it. Because I want our exchanges to generally be light in nature, I must request the following;
This forum is for the purpose of sharing information, not for bashing Estes Industries. If you want to vent your distain or anger at Estes Industries for any reason, donít do it on my forum as I will refuse to answer. I will not answer any questions regarding any aspect of the financial operation of Estes Industries. If you want to vent your anger at the government, write a letter to your local newspaper editor, donít post it on my forum. Be civil. You will get far more information from me that way.
Okay, who has a question?