Rocketry for Beginners in Highland County


Chuck Neff is the President of The Valley AeroSpace Team (VAST), a Shenandoah Valley-based group dedicated increasing public understanding and interest in rockets. Neff first became interested in rocketry when his dad and uncles introduced him to the hobby.

“There are pictures of me, probably 3 years old, out in the farm field with my dad and uncles prepping rockets,” Neff said. “I’ve just always remembered the feeling I would get being able to push the button and watch this rocket fly up into the sky and then come safely back down to the ground by parachute. It was always in my mind and I couldn’t wait to get back into the field and launch rockets, and now we try to do it on a monthly basis, weather-permitting.”

The Valley AeroSpace Team (VAST) will hold a public Rocket Launch on Saturday, September 6th from 10am to 6pm at the Jack Mountain Village, 3 miles south off Route 220. They will also hold a Night Launch that evening from 8pm to 10pm.

Neff explained that this event will be different from typical VAST launches. “We’re focusing less on our own launches and trying to focus on getting people involved and showing them what rocketry is about and getting them to launch their own rockets,” he said.


Rocket launch from the August 2nd & 3rd VAST launch at Jack Mountain Village.

For a $6 fee, people of all ages will have access to a beginner rocket kit and a motor to fly it with. VAST will provide all necessary supplies and guidance to build and prepare the rocket for launch at the site that day.

“These particular kits have a plastic fin can,” Neff said. “The fins are plastic. The nose cones are plastic. The body is a cardboard tube. We will glue these together out there at the site. It probably takes about 15-20 minutes to put one of the rockets together, and then another 10 minutes or so to prep it and get it put out onto the launch pad.”

VAST members will also be launching larger rockets throughout the day. The Highland County Girl Scouts will serve refreshments from 11am-3pm.

This rocket launching event will take place on Saturday, September 6 from 10-6 at the Jack Mountain Village near Monterey. For information and updates on the event, visit or call 540-280-8908.

“For me, there’s nothing quite like being able to launch a rocket up into the air and send it basically as high as you want it to go,” Neff said. “There’s just nothing like it.”

VAST would like to thank Terry & Karl Mey for the generous use of their property for their activity.

Story By

Megan Moriarty

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