The Real Story of the Rocket Boys – How Dreamers Beat the Odds in America’s Coal Country

  At that time, in the town of Colwood, the “coal town” of the United States, the first thing residents worried about when they opened their eyes every day was what was happening below their feet. The property rights of every house here belonged to the mining company. If anyone loses the ability to work in the coal mines, his or her family will be driven away.
Coal mining town can’t hear the sky

  When the “Mate” flew over West Virginia on its scheduled trajectory, Sonny was the only one in the town who wanted to see what it looked like. Sonny’s full name was Homer Hadley Hickam Jr. The boy who just entered high school likes to read science fiction novels. There are many model airplanes he assembled in the room. He learned from magazines that the Soviet Union launched satellites first, and also learned that an American rocket expert was working hard to develop American artificial satellites but failed to obtain them. Pay attention to. When Sonny decides to watch “Friends” in his backyard, the news attracts his classmates, the girl next door, and mothers who do housework all day long. Seeing the little white ball streaking across the sky kept Sonny up all night. A few days later, the Soviets sent “Mate 2” again. From then on, all Sonny thought about all day long was – how big of a rocket would it take to send a satellite into orbit?

  Have you ever sat by the railroad tracks, watching the void wander around you? The panting locomotive exhales a long, winding smoke, and makes a long groan and rattling sound – wandering around you. I have had a similar experience, where dreams are no different than nothingness. All day long I dreamed of a close friend, wealth, and fame, but I only had the returning train to keep me company, and everything turned out to be vain and empty. ——Angelo De Ponciano from the book Rocket Boy

  With questions that kept him sleepless, Sonny gathered his friends and established the “Big Creek Missile Agency”. A total of 31 “Sea Raven” rockets were test-fired in the town of Colwood – all designed and manufactured by them. After the last rocket was successfully launched, Sonny’s high school life came to an end. The “Rocket Boys” of the Missile Agency went to college, and Sonny later became a NASA engineer. He was responsible for training astronauts, directed the maintenance mission of the Hubble Space Telescope, and served as the payload training department of the International Space Station. director. In 1996, he was selected as the Atlanta Olympic torch bearer.
  In 1999, the movie “October Sky” was released in the United States. The protagonist of the story was based on Sonny. The film restores a town that “lives on coal”, where Sonny grew from an ignorant and fearless “rocket boy” to a rocket expert who won the first prize at a national science and technology expo. Through his autobiography “Rocket Boy”, the film’s creator keenly captured the complex and contradictory atmosphere of the small town in the soot and smoke. It is in this atmosphere that the legendary experience of “Rocket Boy” can be so moving, and his dream , frustration, selfishness, struggle, shame and honor are delivered to every audience.
  People who live underground cannot hear the sound of the sky. This is the first atmosphere given to the “Rocket Boys” by the movie. Most of the children in the town attend the same school, and Big Creek High School has only one channel to connect with the outside world – football games. The strong and brutal impact of the players tells us: if you want to leave this “coal town” and go to college, you can only become an outstanding rugby player and get a scholarship. In such an atmosphere, thin Sonny and his companions will never become the focus of girls’ attention.
  His father is a coal mine supervisor and his brother is the captain of the rugby team. At home, Sonny faces the invisible pressure exerted on him by his father and brother every day. Fortunately, there is still sky! The “Mate” crossing the sky and Dr. Werner von Braun, who was working hard to develop satellites, inspired Sonny’s ambition.
  In the film, the people who protect Sonny’s dream are physics teacher Miss Riley, mine technician Bekovsky and others. They are the visual highlights in the film. When Sonny encounters frustration and gives up making rockets, these people They stepped forward to provide assistance within their capabilities. In addition to knowledge and technology, they also boosted Sonny’s morale and gave him the courage to resist fate.
  In the film, there are two darkest moments for Sonny: he and his companions built a rocket that set a new height record, but were handcuffed in public by the state police because their rocket was accused of igniting the mountain forest; When his father was injured while rescuing a co-worker, Sonny took his father’s place and went to work in the underground mine. After returning from his injury, his father was very satisfied with Sonny’s performance in the mine. His father praised him and said, “You are my son! You are destined to belong in the mine!” This was not the compliment Sonny expected at all. His eyes dimmed, as if he was Grow up in an instant.
  If Sonny agrees with his father’s “comments”, then he will become his father’s successor. Fortunately, Sonny has teacher Riley and like-minded friends. Sonny stayed up all night and calculated the rocket’s flight trajectory by referring to “Missile Design Principles”. Sonny took the calculation paper and announced, “I will never go down the mine again!” He proved to the whole school that the landing point of the rocket could not cause a forest fire. In front of the police and the principal, he cleared himself and his partners of the injustice they had suffered. At the same time, It also proves the legitimacy of pursuing ideals. After that, he returned to school and continued to develop rockets that could fly higher. Such a heart-pounding proof question can only happen in a movie.
  In fact, Sonny did not replace his father in the mines, nor did he stay up late to calculate proof problems. Instead, he used the formulas learned in the book to calculate the landing point of the rocket while being handcuffed, and defended the “Rocket Boys” The right to chase dreams, his deeds tell us: we should have the right to choose the future direction.

  It is the women of the town who protect and support the Rocket Boys in achieving their ideals. They did not appear in the movie “October Sky” but were faithfully recorded in the book “Rocketboy”. As early as Sonny witnessed the “Mate” crossing the sky, as early as when he had the idea of ​​​​building a rocket, his mother was his staunch supporter. When Sonny retreated, it was his mother who pushed him behind the scenes. His mother told him: The coal underground will eventually be hollowed out, and his father’s pneumoconiosis will come sooner or later, and the town will inevitably decline. Mother warned Sonny in a decisive tone: “You will never be like your father, never.” After that, when Sonny blew up the garden fence that his mother carefully cared for and burned down the water heater at home, in order to experiment, Even when she gets drunk after buying high-purity fuel preservative, Mom can see the reality behind the “disaster” and “mistake.” After Sonny graduated from high school, he did not get a college scholarship because the rocket won the gold medal at the National Fair like in “October Sky”. Instead, he relied on the money his mother saved from investing in stocks to go to college. Several other “Rocket Boys” also had to take many years of detours to enter their respective universities.
  Before Miss Riley became the physics teacher of the “Rocket Boys”, Sonny and his friends’ extracurricular books were supervised by the town’s “Big Six”, who were housewives and elementary school teachers. Record to guide children on the extracurricular books they should read next—books rich in scientific spirit and humanistic value. Every time Sonny and the others stumbled and timidly tried to launch in the early days, the “Big Six” would silently watch. They were the confidence of the “Rocket Boys”. The existence of his mother and other small town women is the source of energy for Sonny to persist in his ideals and fight against adversity.

  What is even more moving than the movie is that when the town of Colwood was hit by a strike wave, the technicians who had been assisting Sonny in manufacturing rocket bodies were unable to enter the workshop due to the union’s ban. Therefore, the “Rocket Boys” would be absent from the National Science and Technology Expo. . At this time, the mechanics stood up and angrily scolded the town’s ruler: “You want to sell our house, you even want to charge for the air, but you can’t stop our children!” The mechanics confidently helped “Rocket Boy” They won the gold medal.
  As Sea Raven 31, the last rocket of the Rocketeers, took off, every resident of Colwood was stunned by its beauty. Although people here rely on underground coal mines to survive, they also burn themselves for the “Rocket Boys” who look up to the sky. The last rocket was pressed by Sonny’s father, the most respected man in town. Little Homer in the movie said to his father, “Although you and I have taken different paths, I have always strived to be like you.” A hero like you.” This is of course also a Hollywood sensationalist routine that can’t deceive anyone except tears. The real situation is that when the rocket was launched into the sky, his father looked up and stared. Sonny walked over and patted his shoulder and said: “Dad, the launch was successful.”

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