Designing and building high-powered rockets himself, Gollan has achieved the highest Canadian altitudes in two rocket categories.
Gollan, the owner of a local insurance company and a resident of Falmouth, said he’s been flying high-powered rockets for approximately 14 years, when his children were a bit younger and enthralled by them.
“I took this on because I thought it was a really unique hobby; it’s not something you always hear about,” he said. “How many people have built things that have travelled Mach 1.6 — 1,200 mile per hour? I’m just fascinated by it. The challenge of higher and faster.”
The first record Gollan set was in September 2016 when he achieved the highest altitude for a J-Impulse rocket at 13,283 feet.
A J-Impulse engine has a capacity of 280 pounds of thrust pressure per second.
He also broke the national record for an M-Impulse class, which is much larger than the J-Impulse, at about 2,300 pounds of thrust per second.
That rocket went 27,464 feet, smashing the previous record of 23,171 feet set in Alberta in 2016.
Both rockets were launched out of Gagetown, New Brunswick.
Gollan is a member of the Canadian Association of Rocketry, the national body for amateur aerospace in Canada.
In order to fly these rockets, Gollan had to go through a rigorous certification process.
“It’s pretty near impossible for someone in Atlantic Canada to break a record set in the United States,” Gollan said. “They launch from the Black Rock Desert, with an elevation (approximately) 4,000 feet higher than we are. In rocketry, the densest air is further down, so any kind of help you can get like that means their records are much higher.”
Most Canadian records have been set in Western Canada, because of the elevation differences, Gollan said.
“I was really happy when I broke the record, and so were the core group of people in Atlantic Canada, because it’s the first time it’s not been in Alberta,” he said with a laugh.
He’s licensed to own and operate up to O-Impulse rockets, so he has his eye on setting some other records in the near future.
“I am contemplating the N-Impulse next; it would be double the size of the M-Impulse,” he said.