Rocket Man is Back

Over the years I've kind of looked at it with a very skeptical eye, but I'm starting to think he may be moving more toward a science based approach and give it a little more credence now, at least based on effort. The reason being, what does he have left to conquer other than the science? He already has a massive following, already had a TV show and (I think) makes a pretty nice living chasing. I'm sure there's plenty of showmanship left, but at this point in his career it would make sense to bring science back into the fold and try to contribute, albeit in his own unique way. Time will tell whether he ends up making a real contribution to science or not, but for now I think he's putting some legit effort into it.
Last edited:

J Holder

Mar 30, 2005
Osage city, KS
As I understand it, the rocket was found at the KCI airport. There was also a lot of other debris that landed there, so much that the airport had to be closed for cleanup. Some of the debris was from the nursery that was hit, 47 miles from the airport. This would suggest, at least, that the rocket travelled in a similar trajectory to a lot of the other tornado debris. I would think that if the trajectory was successfully measured and data on pressure, wind, etc. was also obtained (both big "ifs") this could be of some scientific value. I do hope he shares the data with scientists, including perhaps the TORUS team.
IIRC they said it was found 5 mile north of Linwood. The fact that it was found at all is amazing.
Jun 1, 2008
Chattanooga, TN
Hopefully the research instruments do not require rare earths. PRC follow-up to Warren's DPRK joke.

Anyway it's a miracle they found it. I mean we rarely recover regular weather balloons. What a lucky find!

We actually met Reed Timmer for the first time in person on that high risk day. Then they succeed near my hometown a few days later. Interesting. He is a great guy. Took pictures with local residents and their kids. Very kind.
Last edited:

Jeff Duda

Resident meteorological expert
Staff member
Oct 7, 2008
Broomfield, CO
I remain skeptical that anything more than a short-form intro paper in a journal like EJSSM or a brief and cursory talk at the next SLS/AMS/NWA conference will ever come from this data. He didn't obtain much of anything that couldn't be derived from NWP simulations or hasn't been recovered from debris trajectory studies from past events like 27 April 2011 (Knox et al. 2013, BAMS). See also Magsig and Snow (1998). The best this does is add one data point to these prior works.


Sep 2, 2004
Blacksburg, VA
Glancing over it, his data looks believable except the min temperature. Perhaps it iced over or otherwise failed. Anyone notice the secondary horizontal wind max on either side of the peak? Almost looks like the concentric wind profile of an outer eyewall in a mature cane in the early stages of EWRC.... perhaps it was an artifact of the parachute probe's unguided trajectory but that is interesting...
Last edited:
Jun 16, 2015
Oklahoma City, OK
It all seems interesting, but as some have echoed, nothing earth-shattering with the data so far... I think he means well, but it does feel like this is more about publicity than anything.

If this does go on to something bigger than a conference talk or peer-reviewed blurb, then I'll stand corrected.


Jun 12, 2004
Sunrise, Florida
He mentioned that the probe is also parachute lofted once it's fired and deployed off the rocket. I gave Reed one of my retired pilot chutes from my skydiving rig at ChaserCon … Humm - I wanted to see it put to good use (and wind up deep inside a supercell) ;)
Apr 23, 2010
Here is an idea. Have the SOFIA flying telescope "film" a supercell with that huge optical package.

Maybe another internet billionaire will buy Stratolaunch.
Oct 19, 2006
Southern Wisconsin
I'd be surprised if they got much useful data out of that. You can't make quality thermometers and hygrometers that small. Also, how do you measure the wind? The damn thing is a's not going to measure winds with any semblance of accuracy. About the best thing they could do is make it act like a trajectory tracer after the engine cut-off, but if the thing got to 34,000 feet, then it is not in the tornado for sure.
Its a model rocket you can buy at walmart. It's self propelled for about 2 seconds, after that it's just being carried by the winds. There's no reason it wouldn't be fairly accurate. Once the parachute is out its going to match the wind speed within a few seconds.