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Aliquippa Rocket Club

This Page last updated on .

This page started on 4 Jan 2014.

So we were the nerds before there were nerds....

In Memoriam :  as you read this, keep in your thoughts the three of us who are gone: Bernie Carifo in 2014, Pau Kee Fong in 2021, and Paul Demshur in 2022.

1962 - 8th grade
Mark DiVecchio, Joyce Albright (9th grade) and Bill Dye (7th grade)

1963 - 9th grade
Paul Demshur and I built this. I was home schooled this year.

Bill Dye, Mr. Lash, Mark DiVecchio, Paul Demshur, Karen Carifo (Bernie's sister) and Garry Barr

Paul Demshur and Mark DiVecchio

1964 14 April edition of the Beaver County Times
Bill Dye, Don Emerick, Jerry Martin, James Findly, William Hawkins and Jim Graff.
This was before I got involved with the Club.

Bill Dye, Mark DiVecchio, Paul Demshur, Bernie Carifo, James Findley, Mike Zaritski, Mike Pigozzi, Pau Kee Fong and Bill's father, Hamilton Dye

1966 19 Aug edition of the Beaver County Times

Me and Bill Dye

Pau Kee Fong (he did the photography for the club), Fred Nordi, Bill Dye and me, Mark DiVecchio.

Bernie Carifo died in 2014. Bernie attended Carnegie-Mellon University a year behind me.

The person on the left is Harry Duschac, not Pau Kee's brother Don. Middle is Pau Kee Fong and at right, is Bill Dye.

Pau Kee passed away in March of 2021. His brother, Don, wrote this:

Hi Mark, This is Don Fong. Thank you for including me in your newsletter regarding the Aliquippa Rocket Club.
It is with sadness that I report that my brother Pau Fong past away last week. 
He was 72. I didn't have anyone else from home to write to regarding his passing.

I sent Don's notice to Nancy Oliker and Betty Stacho Mazur who are the unofficial secretaries for the AHS class of '66.
I also sent it to Bill Dye, Paul Demshur and Harry Dushac - all members of the Aliquippa Rocket Club.

Being the pack-rat that I am, here is one of the rockets that I shot up as a member of the Aliquippa Rocket Club
I never graduated to the multi-stage rockets as I was more interested in the electronics and radio aspects of the launches.

1966 Aliquippa High School Newspaper

Paul Demshur, James Findley, Bernie Carifo, Pau Kee Fong, Bill Dye, Mike Zaritski and me, Mark DiVecchio

1966 23 Sep edition of the Beaver County Times

By this time, I was in college but the ARC moved on.

1967 5 Jan edition of the Beaver County Times


I'm going to have to talk with Bill Dye and find out what happened to "Project Ajax".

Some other names mentioned in the article: Robert Snyder, Bernie Mrozek, Dave Dukovich, Andrew Benedict, Fred Unis, Fred Nordi, Don Fong, Edward Pierce and Bronko Komazec.
According to Bill's book "Climbing into My Dream: An Aerospace Engineer's Journey", once he and Bernie graduated from High School in 1967, life took over.
The more advanced solid fuel and the liquid fuel rockets never came to be. Here is a link to his book or you can read excerpts courtesy of Google Books.

From:    Fred Nordi <fritznordi1954gmail.com>
Date sent:    Thu, 29 Feb 2024 13:38:26 -0500

Hi Mark ,

This is Fred Nordi,  I was 12 when I was a member of the Aliquippa Rocket Club,  that Gemini rocket was mine that Bernie is getting it ready for launch,  I remember those days,  and I was working as a Avionics Technician for United Airlines in Oakland,  I was shocked to hear that Bernie,  Paul,  and Pau Kee Fong,  all passed away - sad news,  Bernie and Linda,  his wife, and I were neighbors

Wow, great to hear from you. Did you find my web page by searching on your name or did you search for the ARC?

It was interesting launching rockets. I never had a lot of success but the others in the club did. I stuck mostly with the radios.

It was very sad that Bernie, Paul and Pau Kee died. That is a big percentage of our little club. Linda's sister, Gene, was in the same class as me, Paul and Pau Kee.

I've copied Bill Dye and Don Fong (Pau Kee's brother) on this email.

From:    "Don Fong, OD" <dfongodgmail.com>
Date sent:    Thu, 29 Feb 2024 11:34:17 -0800
Subject:    Re: Aliquippa Rocket Club

Thanks Mark for the inclusion in your email.  I vaguely remember Fred. Did he attend the Junior High on top of the hill?  I graduated from Aliquippa High in 69. I am still super busy with my practice in Neuro Optometry and have the good fortune of having my son Matthew join the practice.  I don't know if you knew John Zanith,  PK's friend.  I understand that he moved back to Aliquippa  but haven't known his status.   Same with Philip Cohen
Date sent:    Thu, 29 Feb 2024 19:48:38 +0000 (UTC)
From:    William Dye <whd828bellsouth.net>
Subject:    Re: Aliquippa Rocket Club

Bernie's wife, Linda died not long after Bernie. She was fun. I visited them both in Florida (we all  knew then that Bernie was terminal). We had a great time and Bernie and I sat on the porch and smoked cigars.He was so very brave and accepting of his condition.I can still hear Linda "yelling" at me in Italian :-).
Loved them both.
Bill Dye

Flashback Friday  from 15 Dec 2017

I thought you might like to see this article from a recent Beaver County Times. A column they call Flashback Friday. The newspaper published the original photos taken at the launch in 1966.

4 January 2018
Editor, The Times,

Your Flashback Friday article from the 15th of December brings back a lot of memories of the Aliquippa Rocket Club.

We were the rocket boys of Aliquippa. The club, formed in 1964 with Bill Dye as president, had members from Aliquippa Junior and Senior High Schools. Bill was still in Junior High but was the leader of the group. Bill later documented the events in his autobiography, Climbing into My Dream: An Aerospace Engineer´s Journey, published in 2011.

The Flashback Friday article originally was from August 1966. We were launching and recovering rockets just like the big boys at Cape Canaveral. By that September, four of us were off to college, myself, Paul Demshur, Harry Dushac and Pau Kee Fong.

We left Bill and Bernie Carifo to carry on and I only learned decades later (from Bill´s autobiography) that after experiments with liquid fueled rockets, they almost burned down the Dye family home on Plan 6. Some of these experiments were documented in later 1966 and 1967 articles in The Times.

Bill and Bernie were the only two of us to actually become Rocket Scientists. The rest of us became engineers in other fields and have spread to all corners of the country. Bernie, who married Quippian Linda Shematek, is remembered in our hearts as he passed away in 2014.

Now we have all moved into the "grandpa age group" but look back a lifetime ago to 1966. We were nerds before that word existed.

Mark DiVecchio, AHS `66
Fallbrook, CA

This site prepared and maintained by Mark DiVecchio

email :  markd@silogic.com
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