Don Sahlin – Muppet Designer and Rocketry Hobbyist

Don SahlinAfter briefly working as a puppeteer and builder for The Howdy Doody Show then working on stop-motion films (including projects with George Pal), Don Sahlin began working with Jim Henson in 1962. Henson hired Sahlin to create a Muppet of a dog character, Rowlf, for Purina Dog Chow commercials. Rowlf when onto become the singer’s side-kick during the four-year run of The Jimmy Dean TV show. Sahlin became Jim Henson’s primary designer and builder.  Henson credited Sahlin with creating the distinctive Muppet “look.”

In addition to working on the Muppets, Sahlin provided special and visual effects for Henson’s Oscar-nominated short film from 1965, “Time Piece.”

At about seven minutes and 30 seconds into “Time Piece” (about one minute and ten seconds into the above clip from the film), you see a small rocket launched.


The rocket and its launch pad may have looked familiar to readers of Estes’s Model Rocket News.

In the June, 1965, issue of MRN, Don Sahlin is listed of the winner of the recent photo contest.


Model Rocket News, June, 1965

Don’s winning photo entry shows the rocket from the film sitting its the launch pad. The photo is accompanied by stills of the rocket in flight which are apparently from the 16mm film used in “Time Piece.” The above photo also appeared in the 1967 edition of G. Harry Stine’s Handbook of Model Rocketry.

Don’s passion for model rocketry preceded the making of the rocket used in “Time Piece.”

G.HDon Sahlin's Three-Stage ROcketarry Stine’s column in the August, 1962, issue of American Modeler Magazine includes a photograph of a three-stage rocket built and photographed by Sahlin as well as a photo of Sahlin preparing a rocket for launch.

Don Sahlin

Centuri’s American Rocketeer (Volume 2, Number 1), published in 1967, included a one-page article with photos about Don Sahlin, the “TV & Movie Puppeteer” that “Turns on Rockets.”

American Rocketeer

Sahlin died in 1978.  He left not only a legacy through his contributions to the Muppets, but through his affection for model rocketry. The New Yorker’s August 16, 1993, article “Looking Out for Kermit,” published a few years after the death of Jim Henson, discussed how Jim Henson had encouraged creativity in his children. Interviewed for the article, Jim Henson’s son, Brian, recalls how, as a child, he “enjoyed building puppets and props,” and how “he also helped Sahlin assemble enormous model rockets.”

New Yorker Discussion Forums CommunityI’ve restored the discussion forums at

The discussion forums include topics specific to and will be used to replace the system used currently for posting and reading comments at There are also general discussion forums for rocketry topics.

When I first put the discussion forums online last year, I was using a beta version of the forum software from Invision Power Systems. I modified the software to integrate it with and to add other features specifically for rocketry people. By the time the release version of the software became available, it had changed too much and my updates to it no longer worked correctly. So, I temporarily shut down the forums.

Now they are back. This time, I am using the release version of the software and making changes to it more slowly and carefully.  I’ve started using it as the framework for new features (such as the Rocket Name Generator) while I continue to maintain the current site.

Right now works like most any other forum – though you will find that it is easier to use than most.  For example, when you are posting a message, you can “drag and drop” an image into the upload bar at the bottom of the editor window. The image will automatically upload then you can drag and drop it into your post.

In the near future, I’m going to update to automatically create new topics when information is added to  For example, when a review is added, a topic will be created with a summary of the review. To comment on the review, you can post a reply to the review’s topic in the forum or from the review page at

Another thing I am going to try to do soon is to make the forum software recognize more file types including Rocksim and OpenRocket simulation files. So, if you attach a simulation file to a post in the forum, it will be added to the library at and will display as an icon representing the design in your post. A click on the icon will take the reader to’s page with more information about the design and a link to download the file.

Thanks to those who previously volunteered to help moderate the forums.  I will be contacting you soon to ask for your help with the new forums.


2015 National Sport Launch Photos and Video

The Rocketry Organization of South Carolina at Orangeburg (ROSCO) hosted the National Association of Rocketry’s 2015 National Sport Launch over Memorial Day weekend.

The three-day event featured flights by rocketry enthusiasts from around the world.

[View More of Roger and Bracha Smith’s Photos of NSL 2015]

Saturday’s weather featured bright blue skies and a bit of wind.

[View More of Kevin Boyd’s Photos from NSL 2015 Day 1]

Saturday night ended with a night launch.

Though Sunday began with the same, clear blue skies that we had on Saturday, clouds moved in later.

[View More of Kevin Boyd’s Photos from NSL 2015 Day 2]

Even though some people headed home early Monday, the launch pads remained busy on Monday, the third and last day of the NSL.

[View More of Kevin Boyd’s Photos from NSL 2015 Day 3]

Thanks to all the volunteers who supported NSL 2015!


Continue reading 2015 National Sport Launch Photos and Video … Site Updates

Site Maintenance

Apologies for getting behind in processing new reviews and other site maintenance. Between the holidays and a bad cold or the flu or whatever, I wasn’t able to spend enough time working on the site. But, I’m catching up now. Community

I had to take a big step backwards and basically start-over with the new Community web site. Shortly after I set up the new site, a major upgrade of the software I used was announced. The modifications I had made to the software are not compatible with the new version of the software. Instead of continuing to develop the site around software which would soon be outdated, I decided to wait until a stable release of the new version of the software was available.

Now that a public beta version of the software has been released, I’ve begun extending it to support I’m taking things slower this time,

Continue reading Site Updates …

2014 Holiday Rocketry Sales

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are fast approaching. The shopping (and, coincidentally, the holiday) season is upon us!

Below is a list of Holiday Sales offered by online rocketry vendors this year. This list will be updated as new information becomes available. Please leave a comment if you wish to add or update any information. Thanks!


Plastic altimeter sleds and camera shrouds will be sale-priced on Black Friday.


AMWProX is offering sales on kits and motors from now through Sunday, November 30.

Archetype Rocketry

Archetype Rocketry is having a sale on their best-selling products through the Thanksgiving weekend.

Buy Rocket Motors

Buy Rocket Motors is offering a sale from November 28 through December 1 on mid- and high-power rocket motors and reloads.

Chris’s Rocket Supplies

All in stock reloads are 20% off. The sale will end before midnight on November 26.

County Line

Continue reading 2014 Holiday Rocketry Sales …

Rocket4TheCure – New World’s Record As Teens Launch Almost 4000 Rockets at Once

On October 26, 2014, High school students Sanzio Angili and Dylan Whitesel of Chesterfield, Virginia, raised $20,000 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation and broke a world record by launching 3973 model rockets at one time.

Supporters sponsored the event by donating $10 for each rocket, many of which were labeled with the name of a person being honored or remembered.

The two students, along with family and friends, assembled the rockets in the months before the launch.

The rockets were launched at the Chesterfield County Fairgrounds.

8NEWS – WRIC | News Where You Live

Flutter-By Caught By Spider

From Scott Johnson:

“So I was painting my Flutter-By (Centuri Style); doing 10 minute intervals of red paint. In between painting, my Flutter-By was caught by a spider…”


The Naked Gun: “Special Thanks to : Tripoli Rocketry Association”

“It’s the same old story. Boy finds girl, boy loses girl, girl finds boy, boy forgets girl, boy remembers girl, girls dies in a tragic blimp accident over the Orange Bowl on New Year’s Day.”

Watching the 1988 film The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! via Amazon Prime the other night, I was surprised to see the following scroll by during the end credits:

Special Thanks to: Tripoli Rocketry Association

“Aha,” I thought, “That’s where the name came from.”

To back up and explain. The origins of “Tripoli” as the name of one of our major rocketry associations is clouded in myth and the fog of history.

I’d never really thought much about the name’s origin before. But, here was an explanation. As a contributor to the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) had done earlier, I assumed that the credit was a comedic reference to events in the film (“the scene

Continue reading The Naked Gun: “Special Thanks to : Tripoli Rocketry Association” …

CSXT Celebrates 10th Anniversary of Amateur Space Launch By Doing It Again

In May of 2004, the Civilian Space Exploration Team (CSXT) launched a 21-foot long rocket to an altitude of 72 miles. The “Go Fast” rocket became the “first American civilian sounding rocket to reach outer space” and the first verified launch into space by an amateur group.

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the achievement, the CSXT did it again.

The rocket carried a military grade Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) which had previously flown on four commercial space missions launched from the White Sands Missile Range (WSMR). Analysis of the data from the recovered IMU shows that the GoFast rocket reached 385,800 feet (73.1 miles) with a top speed of 3,580 miles per hour.


Model Rockets Take to the Sky

On Juky 22, KTVN Channel 2 aired a new story about Reno Rocketry, the Northern Nevada chapter of Tripoli.


The station’s videographer placed GoPro cameras under and near the launch pads to obtain dramatic video of the launches. The “drag race” shot was accidental. “User error” resulted in several rockets launching at once.