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Homer Hickam

Click here for Homer's interview!

¨  Do you still keep in touch with the rocket boys?
¨  What can I do to make my dreams come true and how did you get through all the math?
¨  Where did Homer Hickam earn his degree as an industrial engineer?
¨  Did Auk XXXI break the sound barrier?

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Do you keep in touch with the rocket boys?

ANSWER from Michelle Mock on 12 January 2006:
I assume that this question was intended for Homer Hickam.  When you write to us, please don't make us quess who you are writing about or to.  Yes, Homer Hickam is still very good friends with the other "rocket boys".  He sees them every year at the October Sky Festival in his hometown of Coalwood.  Homer has answered this and many other questions that people ask him all the time in the FAQ section of his website.  He is a very interesting man.  He even may have discovered a new species of T-Rex dinosaur!!!  Check out his website at http://www.homerhickam.com/ .  Enjoy!!

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I am twelve years old and I have just seen October Sky.  That movie made me believe that I can do any thing if I believe in myself.  I myself was never good at math I guess because I never thought I would need it because I want to be a foriegn correspondent but after seeing that movie I started to think that maybe I could be a NASA engineer.  I have always wondered what Space beholds that just maybe I could build a rocket that would allow the astronauts to stay in space longer or a new way to ensure that the spaceships wouldn't have any problems.  My mom has always said that whatever I want to do she will support me, but I'm not sure everyone else will support me.  They'll say I'm a geek and I'll never make it because I'm not good at math.  It's not that I'm not good at math, I just didn't think I would need it.  I can do it but you know what?  I don't care if they think I'm a geek.  Why should they care!?  My question is what should I do to make my dream come true and just tell me how you got through all the math?  I just want to make something of my life and prove to everyone that I can do it!  You are my hero!

ANSWER from Alexandria Terry on 19 October 2005:
I'm afraid Mr. Hickam is out of town today, researching his next novel.  But I think what would answer your questions, and help you set your course for the future, is to read his book titled "We Are Not Afraid."  It is so motivational and will give you all the informational tools you will need to succeed.  I would also suggest you read his memoir "Rocket Boys" which is so much better than even the movie.

See http://www.homerhickam.com/ for more on Mr. Hickam and his books.  Mr. Hickam will read your message when he returns and I'm sure he'll agree with my suggestions.

Best wishes,
Alexandria Terry
Mr. Hickam's assistant

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The movie 'October Sky' was based on the life of Homer Hickam, who took up rocketry as a teenager in Coalwood, West Virginia.  Where did the real Homer Hickam earn his degree in industrial engineering?

ANSWER from Roger Herzler on 7 October 2005:
You can find the answer by visiting the Imagiverse interview of Homer Hickam and his own biography on his website:



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This afternoon I just finished Rocket Boys. I love it!  I think it is amazing that you got all that help from residents of Coalwood.  I'm just curious, did Auk XXXI break through the sound barrier?   I'm also amazed that you could make such a powerful propellent out of zinc dust and pure alcohol.

ANSWER from Homer Hickam on 25 September 2003:
Thank you for your note.  If you liked Rocket Boys, you're in luck.  There are two more books in what I call the Coalwood Trilogy.  The Coalwood Way is another story of the Rocket Boys, a Christmas story, that I left out of the first memoir.  Sky of Stone is the true sequel to the book.  It is being developed into a Hallmark Hall of Fame television movie but I recommend reading the book.  Books are always better than movies.  As to your question on the last Auk, it did indeed go supersonic less than a second after launch.  Zinc dust and sulfur with an alcohol binder is a very powerful propellant if you know how to handle and pack it.  The secret to our success in rocketry, however, were the finely machined DeLaval nozzles produced by the mine machine shop experts that were then lined with a ceramic coating.  As for a career path, I like to say I wanted to be an engineer but I HAD to be a writer.  Thank goodness, I got the chance to follow both passions.  For more information on all this, check out

Homer Hickam
Retired Aerospace Engineer
Alabama, USA

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Last Updated:
12 February 2006

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