Pencil at Michikawa

After these experiments, the next stage of rocket launchings shifted to Michikawa Beach (now Iwakicho), Akita Prefecture. Michikawa continued to be a stronghold for Japanese rocket technology from August l955 to 1962. The historical first trial at Michikawa was made on August 8 under a clear sky. Twenty-three people were involved in the launch under Itokawa. A Pencil 300 was put on a 2 m long launcher. Launch elevation was finally set to 70 deg. Countdown began at 14:15. "Five, Four, Three, Two, One, Zero!" At 14:18, "Lift off!" But then, a terrible sight. Just before ignition, the Pencil dropped onto the beach, owing to weak vinyl tape at the tail. The Pencil which had been expected to soar into the blue sky crawled along the beach like a pinwheel.

The tail support was strengthened with wire, and another attempt was made at 15:23. For the first time, Pencil took off into the hot summer sky, leaving a thin trail of beautiful white smoke. The summit altitude was 600 m, horizontal range 700 m, and the flight time of this historical first success was 16.8 sec.

Advent of Pencil at Kokubunji INDEX International Geophysical Year