Inventor Robert “Rocketman” Maddox is full of vigor and wild energy, and he shares his infectious lust for life through his custom creations. Having grown up “watching rockets blast off to the Moon and Wile E. Coyote chasing the Roadrunner on his rocket/jet powered machines on TV,” his love of thrust-powered machines blossomed with time. Now, he creates his own thrilling vehicles propelled by pulse-jet engines. They’re like mini rockets you can drive.
Though Maddox is now in his 60s, he is still just as excited by rockets as he was when he was 10 and building “rocket powered balsa wood airplanes powered with Jetex rocket motors.” He’s been at it for years but really decided to capture his inventions in motion and consistently upload footage to YouTube in the last four years.
In a recent episode of his ongoing series, which he aptly calls The Rocketman Show, he introduced Beast—a custom go-kart with a pulse-jet engine. In the video, we can see Maddox seated in Beast, ready to rip through an empty desert. Once he gets started, the pipes behind Maddox glow red, the darkening evening skies only emphasizing the searing crimson heat and the ground beneath him blurring as he accelerates above it. His glee at his speed and his inventive world might be in direct proportion to the danger his invention openly invites. There are no airbags on his rocket go-kart, no protective measures against the hard surface of the salt flats, no illusions of safety that we ordinary folk like to build around ourselves. There is only Maddox with the wind and a grin on his face, and his beautiful machine.
The glowing pipes are actually the engine of his wild rocket. Using pulse-jet power, the bend of the pipes is the combustion chamber and the U-shape controls the air flow and keeps the fuel from burning up all at once. At the brightest burn, the heat might be anywhere between 1900°F and 2300°F, but Maddox in his blue helmet and black T-shirt is unfazed. His inventions are the largest pulse-jet powered machines in the world, and his joy while riding his creations is more than evident. His face above his voluminous beard is ecstatic, and when you see his eyes, you know that this is how we should all grow old. Maddox is building things, having fun, and feeling fully alive.
Bob Maddox began building rocket-powered balsa wood airplanes at age 10.
He was first inspired by NASA rocket launches and the wacky inventions of Wile E. Coyote.