Rocket Group Praises Judge's Ruling

Friday, March 20th 2009, 5:39 pm
By: News On 6

By Margaret Stokes & Chris Howell

TULSA, OK -- The National Association of Rocketry just won a major victory over the ATF in court. And now amateur rocketeers think the judge's ruling may re-energize their hobby.

Members of the rocketry association were battling the ATF over the right to use a certain chemical to power their rockets.

They say the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms got carried away after 9-11, and mistakenly classified it as an explosive.

In a surprise move this week, a judge agreed with them. The Tulsa Rocketry club has launched some huge rockets since it was founded more than 20 years ago.

For about half that time the club's president, Hal Ellis, says a dark cloud has been looming over the hobby. Ellis says that's how long the ATF has officially classified Ammonium Perchlorate Composite Propellant as an explosive.

He says the classification has hurt the hobby in a big way. It forced rocket enthusiasts to go through a rigorous permit process and even face surprise inspections by ATF agents at their homes.

"They will show up announced, typically at night and sit down with you and make sure you understand the regulations and so forth and that you understand that these are explosives and it needs to be handled properly."

Thanks to this week's ruling Ellis is ecstatic that he can once again purchase more powerful engines without so much government regulation.

But the case is not closed. An ATF spokesman told us some members of Congress want to fight the judge's ruling.