Estes Vulture Model Rocket
Special Effects | Estes Model Rocket | 3D Computer Model | Paper Model

Side View
Did you build and fly model rockets when you were young? If Salvage 1 had been more popular, you might have been flying the show's spaceship, the Vulture! Michael Hellmund made the remarkable discovery of a prototype that would have been the Estes Vulture. Michael worked at Estes from 1991 to 1997. He explains how he made this wonderful find:

"The story of how I got this model is rather sad. The house that used to be the home of the Estes' founders, Vern and Gleda Estes, became the R&D House after Vern sold the company. When Estes was sold again to it's current owners, the new management moved the R&D staff to the main office building at Estes. The house was largely abandoned and became cold storage for bits and pieces. Eventually Estes, because of insurance reasons (the house was too close to the Engine making facilities), had to either have the house moved or demolished. The house was sold and moved."


Note engine mount
"Before it was moved, the house was cleaned out. Many items (photos, decals, parts, pieces of models -- many items with model rocket historical value), were simply thrown out. I managed to salvage (pardon the pun in this context) some items and this model of the Vulture was one.""It seems that this was a boilerplate, possibly a flight model that Estes R&D created. I am guessing that it was made in the fall of 1977 (or in the fall of when the series debut on TV). It is approximately 12" long. It is missing a few pieces and one of the landing legs is damaged. There is quite a bit of detail that is not on this model. Having worked at Estes and knowing a bit about model rocket development, I think that a lot of details were omitted for 1) cost (if this ever had made it in to kit form), 2) ease of building and 3) making it as flight worthy as possible play into mind."

Top View

Another side view

"The slots you see in the side of the body tube are probably for clear fins so that it would be stable for model rocket flight. I think the ladder and hatch details would have been added with decals. The parachute would have come out of the top, blue cone. The model is largely made of paper tubes and balsa nose pieces. The nozzle bells came from a Saturn V kit (I think 1/100 kit -- Estes). I do not think this flew but with the addition of the removable clear fins it should do nicely."

A special thanks to Michael Hellmund for sharing this find and for providing the pictures you see on this page. He intends to build a clone of the model someday and eventually you may find some plans on this page. As an old rocketeer myself, I have to say that this would have been one of my favorite rockets of all time if it had been produced.
If only.


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