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October Sky

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While most of President Eisenhower's|advisors--
lf you have just tuned in|to this special bulletin...
Washington has confirmed|that yesterday...
on the fourth|of October, 1957...
on the fourth|of October, 1957...
the Soviet Union|successfully launched...
history's first|man-made satellite...
into space orbit|around the Earth.
The satellite which the Russians|have dubbed Sputnik...
is being hailed|as a milestone in history.
No one in our nation's capital|could deny that the satellite...
has ushered in a grim|new chapter in the Cold War.
And indeed,|a wave of national anxiety...
already seems|to be sweeping the country.
Still maintaining its speed|of 18,000 miles an hour...
completing an orbit of the Earth|every 96 minutes.
Dr. Wernher von Braun...
Chief Engineer of the Army|Ballistic Missile Agency...
expressed the hope|that the United States...
would soon be following|the Russians into space...
with our own|artificial satellite.
Dr. von Braun confirmed|that there has still been...
no actual sighting|of the Soviet satellite...
but the U.S. expects|to be tracking it very soon.
We are told that Sputnik will be|visible to the naked eye...
about an hour after sunset|and an hour before dawn...
as it traverses the October sky|over the United States.
What the beeping signal means|we still don't know.
lt may be nothing more--
Let's go, Roy Lee.
lt's almost 9:00.
Sure are in a hurry|to get yourself killed.
No kiddin'. There are easier|ways to commit suicide, Homer.
Will you just step on it,|Roy Lee?
l am steppin' on it.
Okay, Maguire, Longstreet, Hickam.|Let's see what you got.
Hey, take it easy on my kid brother.|Make him look good, all right?
Let's go! Hut!
Now. Set. Hut two!
l told you to take it easy on him.
l did take it easy on him.
l'm gonna run right over you,|you son of a bitch.
- You hear me?|- Hut one! Hut two!
Homer, you sure got guts...
but you gotta know when to quit.
Okay, Miller, you're up!
Why should the damn jocks be|the only ones gettin' scholarships?
They're also the only ones|that get the girls.
This burns my ass.
What do you boys think about this?
lsn't that something?
Let 'em have outer space.|We got rock 'n' roll.
l'm with you. We got enough|to worry about down here.
Homer, your dad say anything|about any layoffs?
- Have they pulled any more pillars?|- He didn't say.
Does he talk at all?
Yeah, he talks.
Damn it, Jake! Didn't l tell you to put|some men to work on those roof bolts?
- Was l talkin' to the wall?|- l'm sorry. We was just tryin' to get--
Make sure the hoot owl shift|sets those timbers by the vent!
Two more days on that block, we're gonna|be down to the bone. l guess that's--
Jensen! Get out of there!
Jensen, look out!
Come on, Jensen.
Come on back.
What happened?
Whole damn mountain|'bout fell on your head.
And John here,|he saved your life.
That's my dad.
l want you out of this mine. Don't|come back, you stupid son of a bitch.
Didn't l tell you|to watch the roof?
Now we all could've been killed 'cause|you didn't have the sense to look up!
That's my dad.
Homer.
How'd it go?
Well, l told you.|You spend the summer shovelin' coal...
and you'll be playin'|linebacker next fall.
What's the matter, Homer?|Not cut out for mining coal?
Me neither.
Let's get that mess cleaned up!
Let's get some cribbin' on that roof!
Buck up, Homer.|You're a Coalwood boy.
When you get down in the mine,|get that coal shovel in your hand...
feel just as natural to you|as a tick on a dog.
Get that slate off the loader!
lt's the radio signal transmitted|by the Soviet Sputnik.
Listen for the sound which forevermore|separates the old from the new.
That's it? That's the Sputnik?
- That's Sputnik.|- Well, big deal.
Big deal?|What you fail to grasp...
is that the sound you're hearin'|is bein' transmitted by an object...
that is travelin'|at 18,000 miles per hour...
559 miles high,|and orbitin' the Earth--
- Shut up!|- Boys, not in my class!
Thank you, Quentin.
Now Quentin's right, y'all.
Sputnik is a milestone in history.
Things'll never be the same again.
- What do you think about that, Homer?|- Well, yes, ma'am.
Cat got your tongue?
We were talkin'|about bein' in orbit...
hundreds of miles|away from the Earth.
You know anything about that?
No, ma'am.
l got my eye on you, boy.
Now who can tell me|why Sputnik is so important?
We ought to just shoot|the damn thing down.
lt's got one of them|little spy cameras in it.
lt takes pictures of every one|of our missile bases.
This country'd better get on the ball|before it's too late.
All l know is this Sputnik|had better show up soon.
l'm gettin' a crick in my neck.
All right. What you need to do|is take her to the movies.
Somethin' scary, like|''Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman.''
Then you take your arm and put it up|round the back of her chair, like so.
When it gets scary, and she ain't payin'|attention to nothin' but the movie...
you sort of let your arm sort|of slide on down her shoulder...
real nice and slow and easy until--
- l see it! Right there!|- Where? Where?
You seein' things, Carl?
- l see it.|- Where do you see it?
l see it.|lt's right there.
Wow.
Sons of bitches gonna be droppin' bombs|on us from up there.
Don't know why they'd drop|a bomb on this place.
Be a heck of a waste of a bomb.
The first game against Welch, that's|the one that's gonna draw the scouts.
Yeah. Welch knows it too.|They're gonna be coming after us.
Be careful, Jim. Last year, those two|boys from Welch got their arms broken.
- Well, they started it.|- lt don't matter much who started it.
l don't call that football.
You don't worry about Jim.
Ain't nobody on the Welch team|that can catch him.
l wish the scouts could've seen|that first game with Bluefield.
l'm gonna build a rocket.
Like Sputnik.
Well, l'm not sayin' it's gonna|go up in space or anything...
but l'm gonna do it.
l'm gonna build a rocket.
Just don't blow yourself up.
More eggs, anybody?
- Nice rocket, Homer.|- How high do you think it will fly?
Well, l got it packed with|the powder from 30 sky rockets.
Three, four miles.
You ready?
Yeah.
Ten. Nine.
- Eight. Seven. Six.|- Should we get behind somethin'?
What happened?
My rocket blew up.
- Are you okay?|- l guess.
My heart's poundin'. l thought|the mine blew up. Oh, Homer.
l waited six months for the company|carpenter to put up that fence.
Didn't l tell you|not to blow yourself up?
Yes, ma'am.
Then let's not.
- Elsie.|- lt's all right, Ms. Fields!
lt's all right.
Dear Dr. von Braun.
- Six. Five. Four. Three--|- My name is Homer Hickam.
l'm 17 and l live in a small|mining town in West Virginia.
lgnition.
Liftoff. Liftoff.
l'm writing to offer my condolences|to you and your team...
on your recent attempt|to launch the Vanguard rocket.
l also had a disastrous occurrence|during the launch of my small rocket.
Since here in Coalwood|everyone's much more interested...
in what's down below the earth|than what's above it...
there isn't a whole lot of material|to be found on the subject of rocketry.
So l've been kind of stumbling|around in the dark.
You can't be seen with him, Homer.
He's a weirdo. You go ahead...
but you can kiss|your social life good-bye.
- Hi, Homer.|- Hi.
l don't let anybody|copy my homework.
l don't wanna copy|your homework.
Do you know anything|about rockets?
Of course l do.
You wanna come with me|over to the library?
No.
What do you wanna know|about rockets?
Everything.
Well, rocketry was actually invented|by the Chinese as early as 1,000 A.D.
And, supposedly,|they were quite sophisticated.
Potassium chlorate and sulphur.
Well, what'd you use?
Uh, somethin' like that.
Hey, Quentin, this is great.
This is exactly-- We have|everything we need in here.
Roy Lee, drive me to my house.
- We can use my basement.|- At least nobody'll see us down there.
- Go, go, go.|- Come on.
You got a loose choke cable.
You hear that?
The butterfly valve|isn't closin' all the way.
Uh, last year l built|an internal combustion engine...
and entered it|in the science fair.
Yeah, well, you wouldn't happen|to have it on you, would you?
- Ow!|- l'm sorry.
You missed a spot.
This thing's startin'|to look like a rocket.
Listen to this. ''Weld the washer|to the base of the rocket body...
creating a combustion chamber|and nozzle.''
- We don't know how to weld.|- Weld.
Your brother's in metal shop.|Maybe he could, uh--
- Do we really need this nozzle thing?|- For cryin' out loud.
The nozzle's the most important part.|lt directs the flow of the hot gases!
Cool it, Quentin.
Man, talkin' about your hot gases.
l don't think your father would like you|sneaking up in the middle of the night.
And l know that he wouldn't like me|welding for you on company time.
Well, what if l paid|the company for your time?
Homer, l can't.
l would lose my job.
l'm sorry.
Did you see Sputnik go over|the other night?
'Cause it was beautiful.
l stood there and watched it|streak across the sky.
And anywhere in the world, someone could|look up and see exactly what l saw.
For once, it felt like Coalwood|was part of the outside world.
Homer, believe me, there are much worse|places than Coalwood in this world.
Besides, this is just|a flying piece of steel.
A rocket took it up there,|Mr. Bykovsky.
l don't know. l--
When l was workin'|on this rocket, l felt like--
l felt like l was,|like l was Wernher von Braun.
Let me see.
Homer...
it will be our secret.
Mr. Bykovsky did|a dang good job on this.
Yeah, well,|he used a washer for the weld.
- lt looks like it did in the picture.|- Prodigious.
When do we go?
- Give me that.|- Saturday--
What is this,|a weapon of some kind?
No, sir. lt's a rocket.
l don't allow dangerous devices|on school grounds.
- l asked Homer to bring that to school.|- To show it in class.
You know, the boys are thinkin'|about enterin' that county science fair.
Be careful, gentlemen.
- l'm gonna have my eye on you.|- Thank you, Mr. Turner.
That science fair is rigged.|All the judges are from Welch...
so only the kids from Welch|ever win.
And besides,|science fairs are for geeks.
No offense, Quentin.
Well, it's too bad|you feel that way.
The winners go on to the National|Science Fair in lndianapolis...
and colleges from all over|the country hand out scholarships.
lt's great.|Have a good lunch, boys.
College scholarships|for winning a science fair?
Well, maybe it's not for you.
- Well, what do you mean?|- Homer, you got a great mind.
But science requires math...
which has never been|one of your favorite subjects.
Can't just dream your way|out of Coalwood, Homer.
AUK l.|Stroke of genius, Homer.
lt won't fly unless somebody|lights the fuse.
What the hell is an auk?
lt's a bird that don't fly.
What, kind of like a parakeet?
Ready?
Well, Youngstown's|always been fair, Otis, but...
you're askin' me to lay off|damn near half the town.
The mine is just not producin'...
the way it was|ten years ago, John.
We're payin' the same labor|for half the tonnage.
What if we were|to open up a new shaft?
That coal is down there, Otis.
You just let me go after it.
The Coalwood mine|has given out, Mr. Hickam.
Move!
- Ten--|- Nine. Eight.
Seven. Six. Five.
Four. Three. Two--
Holy shit, it's headed for the mine!
l told you we didn't know|what we were doin'!
Oh, no.
God in heaven, l thought|it was a guided missile!
l thought the damn Russians|were attackin' us.
The boy's in trouble now.
So this is what you been up to|in the basement, huh?
- Yes, sir.|- Damn, Homer.
You could've killed somebody|with this idiot thing.
l know. l'm sorry.
Homer here wants to be a|rocket scientist. ls that it, John?
He has no idea|what he wants to be.
But l know what he is.|He's a menace...
and he's a damn thief.
- Dad--|- And so is whoever helped you.
lke Bykovsky did this,|didn't he?
Don't you ever|let me catch you...
with these fool things on company|property again, you understand me?
- Yes, sir.|- Then go home.
Yeah?|What's your tunnel number?
He called me a thief, Ma,|in front of everybody.
- How could he do that?|- He was dead wrong callin' you that.
He'd never have done that to Jim.
They could catch Jim|stickin' up the company store...
and Dad would probably laugh|and say, ''That's my boy.''
l know he's hard to understand|sometimes, Homer...
but you have to know|he loves you.
He loves the mine,|more than Jim even.
- More than you.|- You hush up.
What's it given him back?
Nothin' but a spot on his lung|the size of a damn quarter.
You don't know|what the mine gives me.
You don't know|'cause you're still a boy.
But, by golly, you're gonna|find out soon enough.
l'm never goin' down there.
You better have a talk|with your son, Elsie...
'cause he's out of control.
Where's my rocket stuff?
Right where they belong.
Quentin, you know, that rocket|went up at least 100 feet.
More like 200.
- Will you cut it out, Roy Lee?|- Die, you son of a bitch.
- Come on. My turn now.|- Hey, man. What's with you?
We should be tryin'|to get in that science fair...
instead of sittin' around here|like a bunch of hillbillies.
l got some really bad news for you,|Homer. We are a bunch of hillbillies.
Besides, um, didn't your dad|say no more rockets?
He said no more rockets|on company property.
Do you realize how far we'd have to go|to get off company property?
- Yeah. We have to go to Snakeroot.|- Snakeroot? That's eight miles.
lt's not that far.|We could walk if we have to.
Oh, walk.|That's a fantastic idea.
- Let's go! Come on!|- Wake the hell up, will ya, Homer?
l got about as much chance|of winnin' that science fair...
as you do winnin'|a football scholarship.
l know l'm gonna be a miner.|l've known my entire life.
What the hell's so bad|about minin' coal?
Nothin', Roy Lee.|Coal minin's great.
That's why your stepdaddy's|the biggest drunk in West Virginia.
l mean, come on, guys!|You know the mine'll kill ya.
Did you ever hear the story|about how O'Dell's dad died?
- Homer, will you forget it?|- Shut up, Homer.
A piece of slate caught him right|in the neck and cut his head clear off.
Bitch! Come on!
O'Dell!
Get off of me!
Hey, fellas,|we're lookin' for U.S. 52.
Fellas?
Just stay left at the fork. lt's about|another five miles straight ahead.
Thanks.
You fellas see the way|she was lookin' at me?
Man, you all wanna|be coal miners...
you all go ahead|and be coal miners.
There. There.
God's honest truth, Homer...
what are the chances...
of a bunch of kids from Coalwood...
actually winnin'|the National Science Fair?
A million to one, O'Dell.
That good?
Well, why didn't you say so?|Come on. Give me that.
Quentin.
What?
We hiked eight miles for this?
Oh, it's great.|What should we call it?
How 'bout a slack dump?
What about ''No Man's Land''?
Cape Coalwood.
l mean, it's perfect.
We could build a blockhouse|over there...
and a launchpad.
And we could even build|a test stand!
Dear Dr. von Braun. Our launch site,|which we've named Cape Coalwood...
is nearing completion.
Thanks to the generosity|of local businesses.
lnspired by our efforts...
everyone is anxious to help|by donating materials.
We've been fortunate to have|the support of our classmates.
And the whole community|here in Coalwood is behind us.
Hey, rocket boy.|Mars is that way.
But no one has been more encouraging|to our efforts than my father.
No, the company doesn't have|any cement left over for launchpads.
- l just thought l'd ask.|- Besides, l told you no more rockets.
You said no more rockets|on company property.
And Olga doesn't own Snakeroot.
So, you walk eight miles?
Yes, sir.
Well, tell me something, Homer.
Uh, what exactly is|this Wernher von Braun...
and the rest of those Germans|accomplishin' anyway?
'Cause if you ask me,|it's nothin' but a stunt.
You think catchin' up to the Russians|in space is a stunt?
When the novelty wears off,|they're all gonna be sent packin'.
Maybe then they'll have|to find themselves a real job.
Like minin' coal?
You listen here.
The coal we mine|makes steel, Homer.
And if steel fails,|this country fails.
lf you had half a damn brain|in your head, you'd know that.
Well, who's down there now?
Hold on just a second.|Hey, listen here.
l had an engineer estimate|a new walkway.
They had some cement left over...
so it got caught in the rain,|it's probably ruined.
But if you wanna haul it out,|it's all yours.
Thanks, Dad.
l'll be down in a minute.
And Miss Riley wanted to make sure|you document your results.
You will be graded|when she returns.
You have one hour.
Potassium chloride|has a potassium atom.
lf we mix it with sugar|and add heat...
we'll get three parts oxygen,|two parts carbon dioxide...
along with some|other by-products.
ln other words,|lots of good expanding gases.
lt should make|an excellent propellant.
lt smells like candy.
Better get started.
All right, quick.|Get rid of it.
Mr. Bolden, have you seen|Mr. Bykovsky around?
He's not in the shop anymore.
Your dad sent him down to the mine.
He's takin' it out on you|because you helped me.
That's enough of that.|Your father is a fair man.
lf he's strict,|it's because he has to be.
Besides, he did me a big favor,|transferring me from the machine shop.
What are you talkin' about?
l can make twice as much money|down there working the high coal.
You can?
l've got relatives in Europe who've|had hard time recovering from the war.
They depend on me|for whatever l can provide.
So l can use the extra money.
l'm just sorry l won't be able to weld|any more rockets for you.
That's for good luck.
Maybe you could teach me|how to weld.
- Welding is very difficult, Homer.|- l could learn.
You don't give up, do you?
l can't.
- Come on, son.|- Hi, Mr. Bolden.
Hey, Homer.|l heard you tellin' lke...
you were gonna be shootin' off|another rocket up here today.
l thought that might|be somethin' we'd like to see.
Whoa!
Nine. Eight. Seven.
Six. Five.
Four. Three.
Hey, look out!
Mr. Bolden!
- Mr. Bolden, are you okay?|- l'm all right.
- l'm sorry about that.|- That's all right.
Homer, l flew with the Red Tails|in World War ll.
And seein' that rocket|come at me...
it almost took me back there.
Let me have|a look at that thing.
That's a good job|on the weld, Homer...
but the heat from the exhaust|melted the washer.
lt's referred to as a nozzle, sir.
Son, you can call it|whatever you wanna call it...
but you're gonna have to have|a better steel that can take the heat.
Now l'd say S.A.E. 10-20 bar stock|ought to do you fine.
- And l can order it for you.|- Well, that'd be great, Mr. Bolden.
But it's kind of expensive.
Twelve miles of scrap iron,|and all we gotta do is pop it loose.
Now what are we gonna tell the railroad|when they catch us pryin' up the track?
lt's abandoned. See, the county's|covered with abandoned spur lines.
A mine shuts down,|the track just rusts over.
$8.20.
This is worth $8.20?
A ton.
Come on.
- Go, go!|- This thing weighs a ton all by itself!
Four hundred pounds.
Four hundred pounds?
All right.
O'Dell, you're sayin' this thing|is worth a buck 65?
O'Dell?
lt's abandoned.|Uh, look at the rust.
Caretta number two|shut down in '51.
Shit!
Get it up! Get it up!|Just get it up!
Give me a hand, man.|Come on!
Forget it! Forget it!|Just stop the train!
Roy Lee!
- Stop!|- Stop! The track's out!
S.A.E. 10-20 bar stock.
The angle of 30 degrees is crucial.|When the fuel combusts...
it creates a controlled explosion.
The nozzle directs|a river of hot gas...
that can reach the speed of sound|when it hits the mouth of the nozzle!
Hey, Quentin. Sorry.
lt's called a tapered bore.
A tapered bore. Now he's takin' off|just a little bit at a time.
Good deed, good deed.
l'm concerned that the mass|of the added propellant...
compared to the mass of the empty rocket|will be too little.
He's afraid it'll be too heavy.
Why don't we just make it longer?
Longer would allow increased volume|for the propellant...
without much additional mass.
Great idea.
Yeah.
We got one!
My guess is, is we're gettin' air|pockets in the body of the propellant.
When the fire hits 'em, they act|like little combustion chambers.
l think we're gonna need|a liquid binder of some sort.
- What about gasoline?|- That's a good idea.
''Four unidentifiable|high school students...
lost their lives earlier this mornin'|when their toy rocket exploded.''
Alcohol.|l mean, alcohol's stable.
And it'll evaporate quickly.
Yeah, but it'd have|to be 100% undiluted.
None of that watered-down stuff|they sell at the company store.
l have no idea|where we could find that.
Listen. l know these fellas,|so let me do all the talkin'.
l'm not gonna say a word.
ls that rocket fuel or what?
Great.
How'd they find out about it?
My brother.
We poop out this time, the whole|county's gonna be laughin' at us.
- Who cares what any of them think?|- Easy for you to say, Quentin.
- You're used to being made fun of.|- All right now.
Quentin's right, y'all.
Homer, you don't have to prove|anything to anybody.
You remember that.
Now go launch yourself a rocket.
Homer!
Hello, Dorothy.
- ls that thing really gonna fly?|- Well, it--
That thing had better fly...
or you can kiss your chances|of losin' your virginity good-bye.
Hey, couldn't you guys|find somethin' better to do?
Hey, listen.|There's no practice on Saturdays.
You little sisters|are the only entertainment in town.
Yeah, we were gonna drive over to war,|but then we thought...
hey, let's go see Homer|blow himself up.
That's real funny, Jim.
Hey, Homer, come on.|We don't got all day.
Shut up, Jim.
- Everything ready?|- Wait.
What do you mean, wait?|Where you goin'?
Hurry up, y'all.
lt won't fly unless|somebody pulls the string.
Ten. Nine. Eight.
Seven. Six.
Five. Four.
Oh, my God!
That's great!
Homer, that was unbelievable!
Let's go, Dorothy.
l'll tell you|what's unbelievable.
The captain of the football team|bein' jealous of you.
What you think about gettin'|in that science fair now?
l think we got a chance.
Well, bless her heart.
Aunt Joanne hasn't seen you|in about a year and a half.
- You look like a sausage.|- He does not.
Happy birthday, Homer.
lt'll stretch when you wear it. Be sure|and send her a nice thank you note now.
- All right.|- John?
Oh, happy birthday, Homer.
And l got this in the mail.
Must be a present from Grandma.
lt's an autographed picture.
- Of Grandma? Rather get socks.|- Wernher von Braun.
Well, wonder how he knew|it was your birthday.
l don't reckon he did.
''Dear Homer, congratulations|on your rocket building.
Continue your education|and maybe one day--''
Boy, you better take an interest|in your own damn town...
instead of wastin' your time|worryin' about...
Wernher von Braun|and Cape Canaveral.
John, it's his birthday.
All right, Homer.
Yes?
Homer, there's strike talk|startin' up again. Your father's--
Yeah, he's got a lot on his mind.|Well, l don't give a damn!
''Principles of|Guided Missile Design.''
l had Miss Waters order it for you|a while back, and it just came.
l know the math is too advanced for you.|lt is for me too.
- There's calculus, differential equa--|- l'll learn the math.
This is great, Miss Riley.|l'll learn everything.
lt's the best present|anyone's ever given me.
Thank you.|l'm gonna show the guys.
- Quentin will probably go cra--|- Goodness gracious.
Watch where you're goin'.
- Where'd you get this?|- l gave it to him.
Bye, Miss Riley.
Miss Riley, our job is to give these|kids an education, not false hopes.
False hopes?
Do you want me to sit quiet...
let 'em breathe in coal dust|the rest of their life?
Miss Riley, once in a while...
a lucky one will get out|on a football scholarship.
The rest of 'em|work in the mines.
How about l believe|in the unlucky ones, hmm?
l have to, Mr. Turner,|or l'd go out of my mind.
- lt's good.|- Homer!
Happy birthday, son.
Got some good news for you, Homer.
Say hello to Fred Smith from|the University of West Virginia.
- Hello, Homer.|- Hi, sir.
Mr. Smith wants Jim to play football.|He's offering him a full scholarship.
Well, congratulations, Jim.
Do you play ball, son?
No, Homer shoots off rockets.|Whoosh and all that.
Well, rockets|are not exactly my field, son...
but maybe if you work hard,|you'll go to college too.
Yeah, on a science fiction|scholarship, maybe.
Dear Dr. von Braun, thank you|for the autographed picture.
lt will only further inspire me|to keep working...
toward our all-important goal of|entering that science fair this spring.
We're shootin' off a rocket today.
l thought you'd like to see it.
l gotta catch up on some work.
How come you never have work|when Jim plays football?
You never miss a game.
What time are you gonna do it?
About 4:00.
l can't promise you--
Somebody pulled a pillar|too close.
Yeah?
Well, thank God for that.|Yeah, right now.
Nobody hurt.
Go, Rocket Boys!
Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven.
Six. Five.
Four. Three. Two.
One. Liftoff!
You got it?|Can you see?
- No. Yes.|- See it?
Yeah, l got it.
- What's the time?|- Looks like 12 seconds.
- Which one of you is Homer Hickam?|- lt's me, sir.
l'm Basil Thorpe|with the Bluefield Telegraph.
Can l ask you a few questions?
Sure.
''The silvery cylinder burst forth|in a fiery column of smoke and flame...
racing the very wind|as it soared into the sky...
a messenger of these|Rocket Boys of Big Creek.
These boys who use|their brains, not brawn...
who play not football,|but with Apollo's fire.''
Hi, Homer.
- Hi, Dorothy.|- Would you please sign my newspaper?
Sure.
l just know you're gonna be|really famous someday.
H-O-M-E-R.
Which one of you fellas|is Homer Hickam?
Excuse me.
- Which cost the taxpayers--|- What in the world is goin' on?
This does not concern you.
You have these boys in handcuffs.
You have these boys in handcuffs|in a high school, Mr. Turner.
You probably heard about|the forest fire last week over by Welch.
- A lot of timber went up in smoke.|- Take these handcuffs off these boys.
They found a rocket|on the side of the road.
We knew it started the fire. What we|didn't know is where it came from...
till this morning.
Mr. Hickam, can you account|for all your rockets?
No, sir. l can't.
lf you weren't a minor,|you'd be in the state penitentiary.
- l know, Dad.|- Homer, l've been confused by you.
l've been mad as hell at you.
But it's the first time in your life|l've been ashamed of you.
Stop! Stop!
You couldn't stop, man.|You couldn't!
Get in the car, Homer!|Homer, get in the car!
ldiot! l ought|to goddamn kill ya.
We ain't at the mine now.|This ain't your business.
You get in the car|with Homer, son.
You listen to me,|you drunken son of a bitch.
lf that boy's father was alive,|he'd kick your ass.
So l'm gonna|have to do it for him.
lf l see him with a bruise,|you get a scar.
lf l see him with a limp,|you get crutches!
You hear me?|Do you hear me?
You know,|l'm reportin' you to the union!
Screw you|and your damn union.
Your father was one of the best men|l ever had workin' for me.
l was lucky to know him.
Come on.
Let's go have some fun|for a change.
They watched us get arrested.
We're practically ex-convicts.
They'll never dance with us.
Jesus, Quentin.
You don't know anything about women.
l heard she broke up|with that dumb jock.
See you later, Elvis.
Many a tear has to fall
But it's all in the game
All in the wonderful game
That we know
As love
Hi, Homer.
Hi, Dorothy.
- You have words with him|- Jim, look who's here.
Ain't it past your bedtime?
And your future's looking dim
- But these things|- Way to go.
Your hearts can rise
Above
Once in a while he won't call
When the twilight is gone
- Hi, Valentine.|- And no songbirds are singing
l'm glad you didn't go to jail.
You come into my heart
And here in my heart|you will stay
lt sure was exciting|watching your rockets go up.
l pray
My prayer
ls to linger with you
At the end of the day
You ever see that movie,|''Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman''?
Homer!
Down here! Homer!
What is it?
Mom! Mom!
Your father always has to be|the big hero.
l swear to God, if he gets killed,|l won't shed a tear.
lt's comin' up!
Who is it?
lt's lke Bykovsky.
lt's John Hickam.
Dad!
- The cable snapped.|- May have fractured his skull.
Out of the way!
Move back, folks.|Let us through.
l'll tell you what.
A dozen men would've died today|if it hadn't been for your dad.
Thank you, Doctor.
Mm-hmm. Bye-bye.
The...
doctor says...
there's a chance your dad|could lose his eye.
He has to go to the hospital...
in Charleston...
and Olga won't pay for all of it.
l'm gonna go to the mine|and ask Jake Mosby to sign me on.
You can't do that, Jim.|You've got school.
Olga owns this house|and half the furniture in it.
lf you drop out,|you'll lose your scholarship.
l'm the oldest.|lt's my responsibility.
l'll work in the mine.
- Here you are.|- Thank you.
Mining coal is|an honorable trade, Mr. Hickam.
Nothing to be ashamed of.
Miss Riley!
Turn your light on, boy.
Remember when you|gave me these, John?
Carbon crystals from the mine.
Yeah. Honeymoon.
At Myrtle Beach.
And you said...
''You always wanted diamonds,|but these are the best l can do.
l wish they were real.''
John, l never wanted diamonds.
This whole year...
has been pretty rough going|down at the mine.
Bad tempers and...
a lot of strike talk.
An accident makes things worse.
ln a way, l guess...
l'm the one who's responsible|for what happened to Mr. Bykovsky.
Listen to me, Homer.
Last month...
l gave lke the chance to go back|to the machine shop...
and he turned it down.
Yeah, he stayed in the mine|'cause the money was better.
That was his decision.
You understand me?
Yes, sir.
Well, is mining coal as terrible|as you figured it'd be?
l guess not.
But almost.
Everybody says to say hi.
Michael and Billy.
Valentine Carmina.
How about Miss Riley?
She ain't been around much.|She got some new boyfriend in Welch.
So, what's it like down there?
You get used to it after a while.
Besides, shoveling coal's|got its advantages.
Check this out.
Man, no wonder my stepdad|can slug me so good.
After a month down there,|you'd be able to knock him out.
l ain't in no hurry.
- See you all later.|- See ya, man.
See ya, Homer.
ln Christ's name, we pray.
- Amen.|- Amen.
We appreciate the sacrifice|you made here, Homer.
Pretty soon you'll be able to go back|and finish up the school year.
l'm not going back to school.
A few weeks left in the term,|l'll just stay put.
l think you ought|to finish high school.
Well, tell him, John.
Homer's not a boy anymore.
l don't think|l can tell him anything.
All l'm saying is the cutoff was not|done proper according to contract.
The company did what it had to do.
You know the union|won't put up with it.
Just give it a rest, Jake.
lt's my first day back.
Hey, Lenny, how's he doin'?
He's a chip off the old block.|lt's good to have you back.
Thank you.
l'm headed toward the face.
You wanna come along?
Even though l don't have that piece|of paper-- the thing from college--
they listen to me.
- You know why?|- Because you know more than they do.
You bet your life l do.
Homer, l know the mine|like l know a man.
l can take one look around here--
Are you all right?
l'm not afraid of a little coal dust.
Hell, l was born for this.
l guess it shouldn't surprise me|that you were too.
Let's go watch 'em shoot some coal.
Hold dinner for a while, will ya?|l have to make a call.
l was in the store today,|and l heard some talk.
Boy, it's sure hard to keep a secret|in this town, isn't it?
But l guess l did a pretty good job.
There's a rumor going around...
that l've been sneaking off to Welch|to see some beau.
l wish that rumor'd been true.
They told me Hodgkin's can go into|remission, so l might have some time.
ls there anything l can do,|Miss Riley?
You can accept my apology.
For what?
My life's work is teaching.
And l believed that if you boys|won that science fair...
got scholarships...
went off and did something great|with your lives...
somehow my life|would have counted for something.
You know what?
Sometimes you really can't listen|to what anybody else says.
You just gotta listen inside.
You're not supposed to end up|in those mines.
You know why?|'Cause l think you made other plans.
l want you to know something.
l'm proud of you.
l am.
Whatever you choose.
Excuse me, ma'am.|ls Quentin home?
Homer, you figured|this equation out by yourself?
Well, if l did the math right,|it proves that you can't--
lt proves we didn't start that fire!
Quentin, what are you doing?
Now, the AUK Xlll was the only one|that we couldn't find that day.
And our best guess for fall time|with the AUK Xll...
which is exactly identical,|was about 14 seconds.
lf you help me with the trig part...
we should be able to make a good guess|where that rocket landed.
6,328 feet?
1.2 miles.
Yeah?
Are you gonna tell Roy Lee and O'Dell|where l live?
lt wouldn't matter if you lived|in the governor's mansion.
They'd still think you're weird.
- l'll see you at dawn.|- Don't you have to go to the mine?
l don't work there anymore.
One.
Two.
Ninety-nine.
A hundred seven.
126.
That's 6,300 feet.
lt's gotta be around here somewhere.
What did we do wrong?
l don't know.
l'll check the math again.
Was there a wind that day?
l don't remember.
'Cause if there was,|the wind probably came from the west...
which means that it|would've pushed the rocket...
right there.
Prodigious!
...associated--
Mr. Hayes, where are you off to|in such a hurry?
Everybody, back in your seats.
Miss Stanton, Miss Blue, let's go.
Back in your seats.|Mr. Hancock.
That goes for you, too, Mr. Wilson.
Miss Riley, what's going on here?
They didn't start that fire,|Mr. Turner.
ln the first place, you are not|a member of this classroom.
Neither are you, Mr. Turner.
Why don't you let the boy|defend himself?
And in the second place...
this rocket proves nothing.
You've already admitted|having lost a number of your rockets.
You cannot prove conclusively...
that another one of them|didn't start that fire.
- Yes, l can.|- Oh?
Are we to conclude|that since leaving school...
you've not only become an expert|in rocket science but in trigonometry?
- l didn't say l was--|- You learned more in the coal mines...
than you did in high school.
Let the boy talk.
Go ahead, Homer.
Now, that fire was near Welch...
just under three miles|from our launch pad.
At the time of the fire, the best|that we could do was 1.2 miles...
which is exactly where|we found that rocket.
See, that rocket fell|for about 14 seconds, which means...
that it flew to an altitude|of 3,000 feet...
according to the equation...
''S'' equals one-half ''A-T'' squared...
where ''S'' is the altitude,|''A'' is the gravity constant, or 32...
and ''T'' is the time it took|for that rocket to come back down.
- Velocity equals acceleration...|- Get him, Homer.
times time.
Are you following this, Mr. Turner?
All right.|We're all duly impressed.
Would you mind telling me|if you did not start that fire, who did?
What is it?
Whatever it is, it's ingenious.|The fins are spring-loaded.
That isn't a rocket at all.|lt's an aeronautical flare.
There's an airport here in Welch.
lt's right above where|the fire started.
Mr. Hickam, report to my office|as soon as we return to school.
You do intend to enter|the county science fair, do you not?
Yes, sir, we do.
lf you intend|to represent Big Creek...
you're going to have to be enrolled|as a student at Big Creek.
''Prodigenous.''
Do you think you can draw well enough|so Mr. Bolden could build it?
Yep. Let me see.
Yep.
Hi, Dad.
- What's this stuff doin' here?|- We didn't start the fire.
The troopers gave it back to us.
lt wasn't even one of our rockets.
Y'all go on home now.
Yes, sir.
This the reason|you skipped work today?
Yes, sir.
l thought you put all this nonsense|behind you, Homer.
- l thought you weren't gonna do it.|- lt isn't nonsense.
l don't wanna argue with ya.
Look, son.
l can't even begin to tell you how proud|of you l've been these past weeks.
You just been doin'|a hell of a job in that mine.
You keep goin',|you're gonna have my job someday.
Everybody says so.
You got any idea|how proud that would make me?
l guess what l'm sayin' is...
that if this rocket stuff|is so important to you...
then so be it...
as long as you're careful.
Guess there's worse hobbies|you could have.
But skippin' work,|that's out of line.
And you got to know that.
So, let's go and get you|right with Jake.
Tell him you'll work|the hoot owl shift tonight.
No.
The coal mine's your life.|lt's not mine.
l'm never goin' down there again.
l wanna go into space.
Homer Hickam, Roy Lee Cook,|Quentin Wilson...
and Sherman O'Dell|of Big Creek High...
for their ingenious display|of amateur rocket-building techniques.
l can't believe we beat the kid|with the robot dog.
l thought the see-through ear|was gonna win.
l got Miss Wade working on|your travel arrangements, so...
you boys are gonna have to decide|who's going to lndianapolis.
- We were all goin'.|- Yeah.
l wish you could, but we can't afford|to send all four of you.
Only one. Let me know.|l'm going to have to know by Friday.
You boys did a fine job today.
l need to borrow a suitcase, and|l'm gonna need you guys' addresses...
because l'm gonna write|some postcards.
Shut up.
Come on, you dope.|You know you're going.
Yeah. Say hello|to the outside world for us.
- Do we know what we want?|- Yeah!
- Are we gettin' it?|- No!
All right. All in favor|of going on strike, say aye!
- Aye!|- All right, let's go!
All right, shut 'em down!|Let's go!
Strike! Strike!
They sure are getting|themselves worked up.
Everybody's saying this one's|gonna be a long one.
And it will, if l have|anything to say about it.
Ungrateful sons of bitches--
Mom, have you seen|the big green suitcase?
- Did you look in the attic?|- Yes, ma'am.
l don't know.|John, you know where the suitcase is?
How the hell should l know|where the suitcase is?
l don't know, sug.
Y'all stay inside!
Vernon!
l'm gonna kill|that son of a bitch.
Don't be a damn fool.
What are we gonna do?
Nothin'.
Drunken bastard couldn't hit|the broad side of a barn.
- He tried to kill you.|- You can't just stand there--
Don't trouble yourself, Homer.
You got more important things|to worry about.
Just go look for your suitcase.
Forget about it, Homer.
Shut up, Jim!
l'm sorry about what's going on|around here, but it isn't my fault!
- What do you want from me anyway?|- Watch yourself!
lf l win at lndianapolis,|maybe l can go to college!
Maybe even get a job|at Cape Canaveral!
There's nothin' here for me!
The town is dying! The mine is dying!|Everybody knows it but you!
You wanna get outta here so bad,|then go! Go!
Yeah, l'll go!
Go!
And l'll be gone forever!
l won't even look back!
Welcome to lndianapolis.
Visitors to the fair|will include prominent members...
of every branch|of the national scientific community.
The fair will be open to the public|over the next two days.
The following day, the judges|will arrive to select the winners.
By timing the rocket's descent,|we would be able to figure out...
just how high the rocket flew.
Would you like to see?|This is a Delaval nozzle.
Do any of y'all know|what a Delaval--
The judges always go for|the most expensive exhibits.
The guy with the biosphere's|gonna win.
l don't think so. My money's|on the kid with the rocket display.
Have you seen it yet?|lt's really cool.
Mr. Owens to the security office.
lt's not like we got a lot of time.|The judging is tomorrow.
There's nothin' we can do|without Mr. Bolden.
He can't get anywhere near|the machine shop.
They even took my picture|of Dr. von Braun.
They stole everything.
Leon, what are you doing back here?
You know you shouldn't|be seen back here.
l know, Elsie,|but Homer's in trouble.
Elsie, l don't have the power|to settle this strike.
The bosses listen to you.|They'll do what you tell them.
l'm not gonna crawl on my belly...
in front of|those miserable union rats.
ls that what this is about?|ls this about your pride?
lt's about what's best for Coalwood.
lf this mine doesn't produce,|then the town dies.
Think the union gives|a good damn about that?
They're nothin' but a bunch|of greedy sons of bitches--
Shut up. Just shut up.
Homer once said you love the mine|more than your own family.
l took up for you|'cause l didn't wanna believe it.
Homer has gotten a lot of help|from the people in this town.
They've helped him build his rockets.|They've watched him fly 'em.
But not you.
You never showed up, not even once.
l'm not asking you to believe in it,|but he's your son, for God's sake.
And l am asking you to help him.
lf you don't, l'll leave you.
l'll do whatever it takes|to get away from here.
l'll live in a tree to get away|from you. Don't think l won't.
Where would you go?
Myrtle Beach.
l guess we all know|this isn't gonna fix things.
At least, not for long.
We know you did|what you could for us.
- Jake.|- Thanks.
- Leon.|- Yes, John?
Don't you have some work to do?
lt's packed and on its way.|Be at the bus station, 8:00 a.m.
- How'd you--|- Your father.
- lt was your father.|- Give 'em hell, Homer!
Good luck, sweetie.
Bye.
Thanks, Dad.
When the rocket propellant burns...
it produces a river of gas|which flows through...
the convergent section|of the nozzle.
lf the river continues|through the nozzle...
but through the throat|at less than sonic speed--
that is to say,|less than the speed of sound--
it becomes compacted|in the divergent section...
bound in turmoil--
Lyle Wells and Jean Cooper...
Schrader High School,|McMinnville, Oregon.
Now, ladies and gentlemen,|for the big moment.
The Highest Scholastic|Achievement Award for Science.
The National Science Fair|first prize gold medal...
goes to Homer Hickam...
Quentin Wilson, Roy Lee Cook|and Sherman O'Dell...
Big Creek High School,|McDowell County, West Virginia.
Tom Webster of Virginia State College.|l wanna talk to you about a scholarship.
Jack Palmer, Virginia Tech.
We got the best science program|in the state.
Congratulations, son.|Good luck to you.
- What did he say to you?|- What did who say?
Von Braun.|That was Wernher von Braun.
You just shook his hand.
- Homer, l'm so proud of you.|- Thanks, Mom.
He's not here, hon.
Where's Miss Riley?
Hello, Miss Riley.
Hey, Homer.
You did it!
l knew you would.
The Rocket Boys|are going to college.
We all got scholarships.
And you know what?
From now on, every school year...
l'm gonna brag to all|my new students about...
how l taught Homer Hickam|and the Rocket Boys.
Maybe one day...
one of them'll feel like|they can do what y'all did.
You know, just,|stuff like that takes time.
Will you let me out?
What are they doin',|charging Olga for that?
lt's gotta have a pump.
Hell, salvage something up here.
- Hey, Dad.|- Hello, Homer.
l just wanted to tell you how much|l appreciate what you did for me.
l know it wasn't easy for you,|so thank you.
We're shooting off our last rocket today|at 5:00, so if you'd like to see it--
l got a lot of work to do.
All right.|l just thought l'd ask.
Hear you met your big hero.
Didn't even know it.
Look...
l know you and me don't exactly see|eye to eye on certain things.
l mean, man, we don't see eye to eye|on just about anything.
But l come to believe that l got it|in me to be somebody in this world.
And it's not because|l'm so different from you either.
lt's 'cause l'm the same.
l can be just as hardheaded|and just as tough.
l only hope l can be|as good a man as you are.
l mean, sure, Dr. von Braun's|a great scientist...
but he isn't my hero.
lt's our last rocket.
Yeah, let's do it.
Wire it up for me.|l gotta do something.
Congratulations on winning|the science fair.
- Thanks.|- lt's gotta be...
the most exciting thing|that's ever happened around here.
l was thinking, Homer,|if you've got some time--
Excuse me, Dorothy.
- Good luck.|- Thanks.
Hey, everybody, can we have|your attention, please?
Come on, Homer.|Let 'er fly.
We're gonna launch the rocket,|but we'd like to say thank you first.
lf it wasn't for y'all...
we'd never have gotten|into any science fair.
We'd probably never have gotten past|blowin' up my mom's fence.
But we did, because of|your help and support.
And this is for Coalwood.
There are a few people who believed|in us even before we did.
We'd like to dedicate|this rocket to them.
To lke Bykovsky.
To Mr. Bolden,|who helped us so much.
To the person|who first inspired us:
our teacher, Miss Riley.
And, finally, l'd like|to dedicate this rocket...
to my mom and to...
my dad.
You know, it won't fly|unless somebody pushes the button.
lt's yours if you want it.
Ten. Nine.
Eight. Seven. Six.
Five. Four. Three.
Two. One.
Look at it go, Homer.
This one's gonna go for miles.
O Brother Where Art Thou
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