As many of the Events listed below will be flown at IRW as entries for them are presented.

Scale Contest.

Theme: "Born in the USSR": The theme of the IRW 2017 Scale Contest includes any
rocket produced by the Soviet Union, which formally existed between 30th
December 1922 and 26th December 1991.This includes but is not limited
to research rockets, missiles and space rockets. Post Soviet versions
of rockets such as Soyuz and Proton are allowed as the rockets
originated in the Soviet era.

To qualify all entries must:

  • Fit the theme.
  • Make a safe flight at the FMRS, as per the UKRA Safety Code, and within the NOTAM dates, times and provisions. (Aquajet entries may be flown at the FMRS, or at the Lapwing Lodge Base Camp.)

Entries will be judged on the following criteria:

    Construction – basic rocketry construction, e.g. fins on straight, fillets smooth.
    Reference - source material for the scale model.  This may be any simple evidence that the subject existed; it may be a fully dimensioned set of plans autographed by the designer; or it may be anything in between.
    Detail - additional scale elements, e.g. conduits, rivets.  Only details shown in the reference material will score. 
    Painting – basic paintwork, e.g. lines sharp and straight, smooth finish.
    Accuracy – to score points here, the entry must have a reference (research material and evidence) and will score based on how closely it resembles the original.
    Ingenuity – e.g. clever mechanisms to depict some aspect of the flight of the real vehicle, provided these do not prevent the rocket from flying safely!
    Flight - e.g. correct number of motors in a clustered rocket, correct number of stages.
    Own work - modified kits will score here; outright scratch builds will score well.

Note: Numerical performance - altitude and flight time (endurance) does not count. A small model powered by a 1/2A motor has as much chance of winning as a large model powered by a J (except the larger model has more room for small details).


An entry may be submitted for scoring before flight, but the score will not count until the model has flown safely. It can also be submitted after the flight, but the paintwork and decals may have been damaged even after a safe flight and recovery. Detail and accuracy will be judged on the configuration as flown, e.g. if the rocket has fins which are detachable for display, it will be judged with the fins attached.

Boost/Rocket Glider Duration Contest.

1.     These models, which are a development of the simple balsa wood glider (although in some cases this ancestry is difficult to recognise!), are launched vertically on single or multistage stage propulsion, A to G Total Installed Impulse, and are then glide recovered.

2.     The “Boost Glider” is the version in which the rocket motor is ejected at the end of its burn, while in a “Rocket Glider” the motor casing stays with the vehicle during its glide recovery. There is also the “Parasitic” glider class, which go aloft carried by a separate rocket launch vehicle from which the glider detaches to glide return on its own (while the launch vehicle must have its own recovery system – streamer, parachute, tumble, etc.) and this class may also be entered in this contest.

  1. The flights are timed from first movement off the launch pad to the moment of landing, or when the model is lost to sight (but still seen to be gliding at that point).
  2. Each entrant can launch up to 3 flights – of the same model or different ones, and their best individual flight time will count in the scoring. The winner shall be the entrant with the longest individual model flight time over all of the flights entered.

Helicopter Recovery Duration Contest.

  1. Helicopter rockets (or “helirocs”), as their name suggests, go up on rocket power and are recovered by autorotating aerosurface or aerofoil blades folded/stored inside or around the outside of the rocket during ascent, and then deployed by the motor expulsion charge. These are technically challenging and interesting models to build and fly.
  2. Helirocs can be flown on single or multistage propulsion, A to G Total Installed Impulse.
  3. Flight (duration) timing and up to 3 flights as in the Boost/Rocket Glider Contest.


  1. The idea here is to design and build a vehicle or payload carrier to be launched by rocket and then land in a particular orientation – e.g. upright or on its side – and remain in that orientation after landing. The landing orientation must be specified before launch. It is permissible to the Lander to move and/or change its orientation on or after its first contact with the ground, so long as such movement is designed to deliver the Lander into its specified final orientation.
  2. The Lander may have fixed or deployable landing legs or other touchdown devices, such as large panels which flick out on landing. Other systems and devices are possible – apply your imagination. Think of and study all the different methods that the various Lunar, Mars, Venus and Titan space probe landers have employed (particularly varied in the case of Mars landers – parachute and rocket braking combinations, and also air bag landing devices used), and designs for future planetary surface landers. The only method not allowed is the Lawn Dart/Ground Penetrator technique! (Yes, surface penetrator probes are planned for use on future Lunar and planetary probe missions, but these actual space flights are exempt from the UKRA Safety Code in this respect!)
  3. It is permissible to use parachutes and/or streamers as part of the descent system. Also the Lander can be designed to separate from its launching rocket (which should have its own safe recovery method), or simply be launched on its own power as a self-propelled unit. A to G motors (Total Installed Impulse) can be used in the Launch Vehicle for Separable Landers or in Self-Propelled Landers.
  4. Points will be awarded on the basis of: -
    • Ingenuity of design and construction.
    • Interest level generated by the flight, its descent and the landing.
    • Degree of success in meeting the specified landing orientation.
    • Extra points will be awarded if a delicate payload, e.g. an unboiled hen's egg, is carried and recovered intact.

Happy Landings!

Payload Contest (Duration event).

This is basically a straight forward “Egg Loft” type of event, similar to launch and recovery of an unboiled hen's egg in the Landers event, but without the landing orientation and movement constraints. Other delicate payloads (excluding any live creature) may be entered – there is scope for imagination here. Points will be awarded on the basis of: -

  • Ingenuity and novelty of the egg/payload containment capsule/bay/system.
  • Ingenuity and novelty of the payload selection.
  • Flight duration – timed on the payload (from first movement off the launch pad) if it is designed to separate from the launch rocket and be returned on its own recovery system (as usual, the launch rocket must have its own recovery system).
  • The fragility of the payload. Previously this has been a few points added to the score. As of this year, it's a multiplier, so putting a half brick into a G powered rocket and achieving a duration of half an hour will score 0 because the half brick scores 0 for fragility

Payload Contest entrant rockets to be flown on single or two stage propulsion, on A to G Total Installed Impulse.


Confectionery Rocket Contest.

This event, “the Sweetie Rocket” contest is a flight duration event.

1.     To qualify entrant rockets must include a confectionary related item, or items, as a major structural component/components – e.g. packaging, contents, advertising material; flat pieces of chocolate have for example been used to make fins in past Sweetie Rockets (and if they are too big, why then you can just nibble a bit off!).

2.     Power to be a maximum of 160Ns – A to G motors. Clusters and staging are allowed, but overall must stay within the 160Ns limit (Total Installed Impulse).

3.     As with all the other Duration events timing is from first motion off the launch pad to landing (of the last stage in multi-staged models), or loss of sight of timed rocket or stage.

4.     Parachute rockets will have their flight duration divided by 3 to off-set their advantage over streamer recovered rockets.

Aquajet Events.

Team Distance Contest.

1.     Teams of six, each member flying a 2 Litre aquajet. (The capacity has been changed due to the difficulty in obtaining 1.5 Litre PET plastic bottles nowadays).

2.     Two rounds of flights for each team, with each individual best range between the two rounds counting in the scoring. Ranges for each flight to be clearly indicated with an identifying marker – each team to provide their own range markers (hence helping to identify the aquajets of the different teams when lying out on the range).

3.     Common launch pressure (between 60 and 100psi, or 4 to 6.9 bar) to be agreed by the teams at the start of the Contest.

4.     Quick repair of aquajets, or replacement with a substitute aquajet is allowed between the two rounds.

5.     All aquajets in this contest must have soft/crushable nose cones to prevent damage or injury in case of accidental impact with objects or persons.

6.     The winning team shall be the one with the greatest total range achieved over the two rounds, i.e. adding up the six best individual ranges achieved by the members of each team. To facilitate range measuring a distance marked range will be set up at the FMRS for this event. The actual final range measurements will be carried out by an independent person, and witnessed by a representative of from each team.

7.     The winning team shall be awarded the “Schwiglhofer Trophy”, which was created in 1985 in honour of Oscar Schwiglhofer, FBIS, MISM, a lifelong campaigner for astronautics, founder of ASTRA (Association in Scotland To Research into Astronautics), and former student of the great pioneer of astronautical mathematics and ideas for space exploration, Prof Hermann Oberth.

Aquajet Open Distance Contest.

1.     Individual entries in the categories: less than 1.0 Litre, 1.0 Litre, 1.5 Litre, 2.0 Litre and greater than 2.0 Litre.

2.     Contest to be flown off in groups by capacity, as above, with common launch pressure to be agreed at the start.

3.     Two flights per entrant (quick repairs or different aquajets between rounds allowed).

4.     Best individual range wins for each capacity category. Event will be flown over the measured range used in the Team event.

5.     All aquajets in this event must have soft/crushable nose cones, as in Rule 5 for the Team event.

Note: All aquajet models flown in the Team and Open distance events must be designed to fly ballistically, from launch at approx. 45-degree angle from the horizontal. Inclusion of lifting surfaces designed to enable the aquajet to glide will disqualify the entry (but see Aquajet Glider Contest below). Aquajet (Water Rocket) Construction and Safety Code.


Aquajet Parachute Duration Contest.

  1. This event will be scored on the total flight time from launch to landing.
  2. Flown in capacity groups, as in the Aquajet Open.
  3. Up to three flights per entrant; longest flight time entered against the other contestants.

Aquajet Glider, & Helicopter Duration Contest.

  1. The rules for these events are the same, as regards timing and number of flights per entrant, as those for the model rocket Boost/Rocket Glider Duration Contest.
  2. Flown in capacity groups.
  3. Up to three flights per entrant; longest time entered against the other contestants.


Competition rocket flying events are flown during the annual IRW for several reasons: -

  • For fun.
  • To encourage technical development and improvement in various model rocketry technologies and techniques, such as recovery systems (streamers, parachutes, glide and helicopter duration), materials and construction methods, design and aerodynamics. This development and improvement applies as much to the capabilities of the rocket flyers taking part as to their model rockets. An example of such improvement is the increase in Boost/Rocket Glider flight duration times from around 16 seconds to flights of 90 to 120 seconds duration not untypical in more recent years.
  • To provide a focus for the design, build and test flying activities of model and high power rocketeers in their preparations for the annual IRW.

The rules of the IRW Competition rocket flying are kept as simple as possible, reducing the potential for dispute. The IRW rocket contests are an alternative to, but not in competition with, the various official national and international space modelling contests, which have limiting entry qualifications, complex rules (over 170 pages of them the last time that I looked) and elaborate organisational arrangements (of necessity). Any rocket flyer may take part in the IRW contests as long as their rocket and its flight mode complies with the UKRA Safety Code. (UKRA is the Specialist Body within the British Model Flying Association for model and high power rocket flying, and is the recognised UK national enabling, advisory and standards organisation for these activities.)

 Notes on amendments to the rules for some of the IRW Contests. 

(Please read carefully, and note. There are points at stake here. And as we all know, points mean prizes.)

Boost/Rocket Glider Duration Contest: This Contest does not distinguish between boost-gliders and parasitic gliders. The key distinction is between boost-gliders and rocket-gliders. If so much as the motor casing separates from the glider then it's a boost-glider. A true rocket-glider, in which the engine casing is retained post-boost, is a more challenging design than a boost-glider, and will get a significant bonus to its score in this year's contest.

The same applies to the Helicopter Recovery Duration Contest: There's the Estes kit the nose cone of which separates and descends on rotor blades, and there's also the old "Tornado" kit which broke in half with one part tumbling and the other part rotating like an oversize sycamore seed. Any heliroc which is designed to stay in one piece will get a bonus.

Haggis / Payload Contest: There have been no specific Haggis entries in this event. Therefore Haggis lobbing by rocket is now included as part of the Payload Contest. The bonus for fragility of payload will be much more significant in future. A rocket which sends up an egg with a C class motor, stays up 30 seconds and returns the egg intact, will score higher than a rocket which sends up a half brick on a K class motor, stays up 10 minutes and returns the payload intact, just to give one example.

Confectionery Rocket Contest (aka “Sweetie Rockets”): As has always applied, to qualify, an entrant rocket must include a confectionery related item as a major structural component. This is defined as a component which, if it were absent, would cause the rocket to lack a major structural component/assembly, e.g. body tube, nose cone, or fin set. A sweetie wrapper glued round a non-confectionery tube does not count as a confectionery related component, since, if the wrapper were not there, the tube would still be intact. Neither does a confectionery related recovery device, though that will gain a bonus point for additional component if included in an otherwise eligible rocket. 

The bonus for "Own Work", defined in the Scale Contest, now applies to all contests. This is in line with the defined ethos, "To encourage technical development and improvement in various model rocketry technologies and techniques". There's not much innovation in building a stock kit!

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