Pyro mania - Part I

I'm sitting in my motel room in Kingman, Arizona, looking through the set of pictures I've taken during the last few days and it occurs to me that it's going to be very difficult to select the right set of images to tell the story and not get too long winded.  I had so. much. fun.

So let's get down to it.

Remember the egregiously large box of chocolates I bought for me, my wonderful valentine?  Well I decided to hang on to the box on a hunch and the hunch worked out splendidly.  I offered the giant heart shaped box to a wonderful pyro group called The Jackalopes (inventors of the Bunny Blasto roman candle shooting range) so they could use it as a target for their shooting gallery.  All the targets on the roman candle shooting range get filled with pyro so that when the lucky roman candler hits a gunpowder sprinkled target, the target lights the pyro and the target  begins to spin or send up a shower of sparks, etc.

The gracious Jackalopes not only jumped on the idea, but encouraged ME to be the one to rig it with pyro!  How cool is that?  I filled the heart with a series of fountains (the ones you put on the ground and when you light them a shower of sparks goes up) and applied both glue and tape to secure the pyro to the box.  Later that evening it was put on a spindle and blasted.  I wasn't out on the range to see it go, but was told it looked pretty badass completely engulfed in flame.

As you might imagine, the shooting range is wildly popular.  To the left is a picture of the range after only the first night of shooting.  A bunch of grinning, giddy adults made that mound.  The Jackalopes also spent a good portion of their weekend working on a giant 30 foot ferris wheel covered with pyrotechnic effects that was lit during the last show of the weekend.  They're great about rounding up volunteers to help them (which everyone is eager to do) and I was able to participate in the ferris wheel project in two different ways over the weekend.

One way was participating in a seminar where the class built 8 large pin wheels - a spinning gizmo with four rocket-like drivers on it.  These would be attached the ferris wheel and provide a lot of silver and gold glittering sparking action.  My favorite pyro instructor Kurt Medlin (right) taught the class where we rammed black powder into tubes and fused them.
A few pictures from Friday night's show:

Another thing to mention is my ongoing love affair with the rocket line.  I spend the majority of my time out there and enjoy every minute of it.  The rocket line is the area where anything on a stick gets launched.  Out there you'll see everything from world class (I'm not kidding) rockets like the 60 pound beauties on the right to little handmade student jobbers.  The amazing rockets on the right are made by a fellow named Bruce (with red/white/blue hard hat) who is reverently worshiped by pyros one and all.  I don't know many of the specs on these rockets, but they soar incredibly high and blast off with a force that will literally knock your socks off.  Bruce is a master pyrotechnician as well, so when the rockets reach their apogee and burst there is generally a long slow waterfall of changing effects and colors that has to be seen to be believed.  We're really lucky to have Bruce attend our get together and bring such marvelous toys.

One of the other big reasons I love working the rocket line is the company I get to  keep out there.  There are a multitude of fascinating mad scientists and entertaining engineers.  But watching over all of us is the inimitable Bill Ryan who is not only is the lead for the manufacturing part of the event, but is also out on the rocket line every minute it's open to make sure we're operating in as safe a fashion as possible.  I love working with Bill and think he's a peach of a guy.  And he is not the least bit afraid to tell it like it is which is an important quality in a safety lead, if you ask me.

 Okay, this is crazy, but I'm completely out of time to do any more writing.  It's imperative that I leave in the next fifteen minutes to head out to Havasupai Canyon for what I am sure is going to be an amazing adventure.  I'll have to continue this post later - and in fact much later.  I'm about to walk 10 miles into the wilderness of the Grand Canyon area for three days and won't have a bit of connectivity until Wednesday.  I do intend to allow my laptop to take precious space in my backpack so I can work on my blog while I'm at the lodge.

See you fine people three days and 20 miles from now!

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