Pratt Hobbies will celebrate 20 years of operation this summer. Not bad for one crazy old guy in his
I've been flying model rockets since 1960. In the late
Seventies I worked for FSI, a rocket company based in Missouri. In
between at least ten other careers, I wrote a book entitled "Basics of
Model Rocketry," which was published in 1980 and became a best-seller
by hobby standards. That led to writing eight other hobby books, while
working as a magazine editor and association executive.
For some strange reason I was inspired to ruin my hobby by making a
business out of it. The fact is, I get the same pleasure out of
assembling a batch of gadgets that I used to get out of building model
planes and rockets. There is a real thrill in exploring new ideas,
cobbling something together, figuring out why it didn't work, and
figuring out the best way to make 20 of them at a time.
Pratt Hobbies is a family business even though our principal source
of child slave labor has left to go to school. Son Brian did a year
and a half at Lassen College in Susanville, California, in the oldest
and most-respected gunsmithing program in the country, and is now
developing a career as a machinist. Daughter Valerie graduated this year
from Randolph-Macon Academy, a 120-year old military college prep
school in Front Royal, VA. She will be attending Messiah College in
Grantham, PA in the fall, majoring in Politics, appropriately enough
for a kid who was Captain of the Debate Team and won five national
events. High school debate is amazing and Val ran a great team. We
even did a talk show on a radio station in Front Royal; you can find
podcasts at rmadebate.blogspot.com.
Dad still has his day job, but dreams
of doing this nonsense full time when the kids are through school. The
way both the kids and the business are growing, it could happen.
Looking back, I can say it's been a pure pleasure to work with so
many enthusiastic people over the years. We have the finest customers
in any business I can imagine, and we're all here for the same reason:
to have fun. I have boxes with hundreds of letters from
teachers, Scoutmasters, school kids, 4-H clubs, every group you can
imagine, all excited about their rockets. On the other side of
things, NASA is using an RTLS launch system to fire hybrid motors at
Wallops Island. Life is
Thanks to you all.