Watch This DVD: October Sky

October Sky is Hoosiers for nerds. Both movies feature teenage boys from small towns overcoming incredible odds in stories that, if they were fictional would be deemed implausible but because each is based on a true story, each is inspirational. Drawing on the book Rocket Boys, October Sky tells the story of how, after seeing Sputnik fly by in the early days of the Space Race, a group of teenagers from a West Virginia coal mining town pour all their energies into rocketry. Eventually, their efforts are rewarded by winning the National Science Fair, earning each of the boys a college academic scholarship.

Progatonist (and book author) Homer Hickam is played by pre-Brokeback Mountain Jakey Gyllenhaal whose disapproving father (played by Chris Cooper) is the manager of the coal mine that dominates the economy of their town. Homer has to overcome the normal teenage problems of comparisons to his brother, impressing the girl he likes, and scrounging enough money to supply his hobby. Plus, he and his buddies blow a lot of stuff up.

I don’t have anywhere near the chemistry background or know enough about aerodynamics to know how realistic the progression of rockets is, but it the actual Homer Hickam (who eventually became an engineer for NASA after going to Virginia Tech) was a technical adviser and it all seemed reasonable to me. In the end, a whole bunch of people help the group out (including the disapproving father) when a key part is stolen and everything is happy. It’s a moving story about overcoming adversity with enough science to keep it interesting throughout.


2 Responses to “Watch This DVD: October Sky”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Actually, the author’s name is Homer Hickam and his website is

  2. Pete Johnson Says:

    My bad. Spelling fixed. Thanks for catching that.


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