Estes Designers - Their Kits & Works
An attempt to get up a list of ALL Estes designers and what they made. Any knowledge you have to offer would be awesome! All contributions will be added to this master list so check it out from time to time should you be interested. So far:
Estes Designers - Their Kits & Works
Vern Estes (founder of Estes):
- Astron Scout
- Big Bertha
- Space Plane*
*Based on John Schutz's first boost glider design, but Vern built a couple dozen variations of it in order to make a model that could be easily built as a kit.
Earl Estes (Vern's Brother):
G. Harry Stine:
- Astron Mark
- Mars Lander
- Red Max
- K-50 Interceptor
- A-20 DEMON
- All the Star Wars plastic kits
- Long Shot
- Mach 12
- Silver Comet
- All the Mighty Mites
- many more!
- ARV Condor
- the never-produced F117
- Sweet V
- Launch pad for the Mighty Mite starter set
- Astron NIghthawk Glider
- Cherokee D
- 1/70 Saturn 1B
- If Roy Recalls Correctly he was also credited with those gorgeous illustrations in all the mid to late 60's instructions!
- Sky Hook (his first design, according to Vern!)
- Scissor wing Transport
- SPEV (see note below)
- Started the BT nomenclature for body tubes.
Carl from Semroc adds this information...
"The SPEV is questionable. Gleda said that Bill was fired the first day Damon took over. The SPEV was almost four years later. If it was a "Spare Parts Elimination Vehicle", Bill had to have had a real vision. I think it may have been an inside joke to put his name on it as the designer."
- late 80's version of the Saturn V (originally from Centuri and had done their Saturn V)
- 2157 Saturn V
- Mk-109 Stingray
- Gemini DC
- Nike Arrow
- SM-3 Seahawk
- Rattler -7
- Big Dawg
- AIM-120 AMRAAM
- Big Daddy
- Most North Coast Rocketry By Estes rockets!
- Eliminator, Lance Beta, Patriot, Archer, and Bomarc
- Astron Falcon
- Sky Dart Boost Glider
- BOMARCS (large and small)
Mike Dorffler (Still there as of 4/11/07):
- LTV Scout
- Blue Bird Zero
- AIM-9 Sidewinder
- Asteroid Hunter
- The EX2 Concept
- "most everything electronic that came out of the company"
- Co-designed the igniter plugs with Ron McClaren (you never know when such a simple device will be such a tough nut to crack!)
Tim Van Milligan (91-94):
- Delta Clipper
Now owns Apogee and is the developer of RockSim software!
- Airwalker Starter Set
Roguepink (Identity Unknown):
- Porta Pot Shot
- Stone Age
- Pop Fly
- 18mm SpaceShipOne
and Rocket Doctor (Identity Unknown):
- Baby Bertha
- Converter/Deluxe SuperShot Screw Machine
- No.2 SkyWriter
- 36D Squared
- Screamin Mimi
- Suggested the breakaway in the new Mean Machine
- Wrote and reviewed instructions
North Coast Rocketry Only
- NCR Phantom
- Big Brute
- Interceptor G
Vern said if he remembered correctly, the Sky Hook (K-6) was Bill's first Estes design.
The SPEV is questionable. Gleda said that Bill was fired the first day Damon took over. The SPEV was almost four years later. If it was a "Spare Parts Elimination Vehicle", Bill had to have had a real vision. I think it may have been an inside joke to put his name on it as the designer.
This is a great thread, by the way!
Much appreciated Carl, that's a WONDERFUL tidbid of history you've offered up there! Feel free to spill anything you know regarding any of these people, or others not yet mentioned!
Incidentally, I found the info on Bill and the SPEV mentioned on your site via Google when I was looking him up! You've got an AWESOME selection of parts BTW, and some sweet looking kits too!
could've been that he designed the Thor Agena?
I wonder why he was fired and how Damon's taking over had anything to do with it? Were they just trimming overhead or was there a reason for singling him out? I would also be curious as to what Vern thought of that... was he against it and powerless, or was it at his suggestion for some reason? I know nothing about him other than what's listed above!
Also, does anyone know who designed the Scissor Wing Transport? What a brilliant piece of work!
From listening to Gleda and Vern, I gather that there was a lot of mutual respect and admiration between the three of them, along with a great working relationship. In my opinion it shows in the volume of work after Bill came on board.
I asked them how long Damon kept them after the sale was finalized. Gleda stayed the longest helping transition the production over to Damon leadership. Vern stayed on several years as a spokesman. When I asked how long they kept Bill, Gleda said "They got rid of him the same day!" I gathered it was a surprise the to Estes' that they were not keeping Bill.
When I thought about it later, they had to clean out all the top management, especially those that were loyal to Vern and Gleda. That is just the way companies absorbed companies back them. Would have been a lot different today if they had kept the same team in place and just provided expansion capital!
Well, in a lot of ways their path wound up being VERY helpful to the overall health of things as it led to the wide open potential for mom'n'pops to fill in the gaps, so a large part of me is quite grateful, but it would be mighty interesting to see what it would be like today if they would have kept the team. I would have loved to still be able to do direct mail order with em... getting to sink into a catalog full of goodies!
Do you happen to know what Bill went on to do aftarwards? It had to be pretty hard to get axed like that for little more than a power change from a heartless new owner.
What in the - was Vern thinking, besides mega $? My goodness, they had such an awesome thing going there for such a long time... why on Earth anyone would want to let something like that get into such cold hands is something I'll never want to relate to.
Thank you very much, Carl, for sharing such deep insights!
You really need to just go over to www.launchmagonline.com and order the premier issue of LAUNCH. Then go over to NAR.org and order the past two issues of Sport Rocketry. Many of your questions are answered therein. Actually, just order all four past issues of LAUNCH and you'll have a lot of history and background on Estes, Centuri, Fliskits, Semroc, Vashon, RDC, and lots of space articles too.
Bill Simon may have been fired by DAMOn on the 1st day, but evidently DAMON hired back again(not uncommon) as he was the designer of the Scissor wing Transport circa 72-74. You can read about its design and development in the April/MAY 1974 Estes MRN. At this time frame Bill (Wiliam) Simon is listed as Estes R&D Manager, which is a far cry from what he was hired in at age 19 fresh out of Junior College. Bill was hired by Vern EStes at age 19 fresh out of junior college and was immediately put to work as the Estes MRN editor among other things. Remember in those days everybody did multiple jobs and wore multiple hats. Bill told me this himself in several telephone and email conversations a few years back. Bill is still alive and well but I have lost contact with him, although I am trying to re-establish contact with him. LAst time I spoke with him he lived in Washington State.
IN April/May 1974 the Estes Maxi-Brute line came out so I would assume as Estes R&D manager he played a role in their being offered. He also was at EStest during the Goony Birds launch, mini-brutes launch,etc .
Larry Renger was the designer behind the Astron Falcon(nee Sky SLask derivative), and the Sky Dart BG, the small and large BOMARCS (Cittation Line) and of course later the Stratoblaster and the Centurian T-25(?). I have photos that LArry sent me showing him at work on the BOMARC"S at estes along with a photo of the SKy Dart prototype model.
Gene J. Street designed the Astron NIghthawk glider.
So my info that Simon is in his 80's must be wrong. Sounds like he's more like he's 65-70.
(EDIT: Ah, now I know... I was confusing him with John Schutz.)
Has Renger been an employee there this whole time? It has always sounded like he was just a consultant, designing the occasional winged thing. I thought he worked at some point for one of the model airplane kit companies.
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