The May society meeting was a presentation from Kevin Kilburn FRAS from Manchester Astronomical Society. He talked about the life of Manchester’s First Rocket Man- Eric Burgess.
Mr Kilburn explained that there were rocket men long before that term became popular, building and launching miniature rockets perhaps more in hope that expectation, believing than they might, just might, see the people-carrying version in their lifetimes.
Most did indeed live to see the ‘Saturn V’, a rocket perhaps they alone could have conceived of before the Space Age arrived. One such rocketeer was Eric Burgess, who founded the Manchester Interplanitary society at aged 16. Eric never stopped looking out into space; it seems his eyes were always set upon the arc made by those experimental rockets, and his visionary ideas included the original concept for the famous Pioneer plaque, which he suggested to another now erstwhile space dreamer, Carl Sagan.
‘Pioneer’ 10 and 11 both carried the plaque and both were launched on mighty Atlas-Centaur rockets, machines which owe at least part of their historical antecedence to those built by youthful rockeeters such as Eric. He went on to play an instrumental role in shaping the post-War British Interplanetary society, along with Arthur Clarke and Ken Gatland, before emigrating to the United States.