Fire from the Sky

This story was sent in by Rick Manley, SMSgt USAF, Ret:

A friend of mine who indulges in very strange activates including auto mechanics and computer assembly/programming sent me the link to your sodium drop tests. I felt an instant kindred to you. May I relate my own "sodium drop" story to you?

I was born and grew up in a small town in eastern Tennessee. Our school had a large population (625 children from grades 1 through 12). Needless to say it was a two story, one building school with elementary school classes conducted downstairs and middle/high school classes upstairs. Strangely enough the chemistry lab was directly over the first grade classroom. Mrs. Boyd, our science/biology/chemistry teacher was a lovely soul and I was always one of her favorites in spite of my early attempts at rocketry, black powder, and contact explosives (fulminate of mercury) in class! Back in 1969 you could still do really fun stuff in school!

She lovingly trusted me with the key to the chemical storage room which contained all sorts of pickled critters (it was also used for biology storage) for dissection, the typical chemical lines of a high school chemistry lab.......which included a chunk of sodium, about 3 or 4 pounds I estimate, stored in what smelled like kerosene. Knowing the potential of sodium and water mixing in a very spectacular way, a small amount of the sodium, I would guess less than half a pound, somehow found its way chunked off the main piece and into the lab area. This naturally occurred during the teachers planning period when no one was around. Well, a couple of my buddies and I decided to have some sodium fun of our own and nicked a few little pieces off and put them in beakers and watched the violent reaction ensue. We laughed and laughed as the miniature fireworks shows, much less spectacular than yours occurred.

One of the other guys decided I was not aggressive enough with the shows and decided to one up me. He proceeded to open the classroom window and to his delight he discovered a mud puddle of massive proportion almost directly under the window. He grabbed the chunk of sodium we had left (with tongs of course) and threw it out the window into the puddle. Needless to say, this caused an effect much like your videos show of heat, light and explosive power. UNFORTUNATELY, there was one flaw in this deal. Billy had not taken into account the effect that this explosive display had on Mrs. Johnson's first grade class which, of course was directly under our window.

Being the honest and upright moral boys we were, we proceeded to put everything away in approximately 5 nanoseconds and get the heck out of the lab. An investigation supposedly ensued and I am sure that lots of discussions were held about the wisdom of keeping that much sodium in our chemistry laboratory. The locks were changed and that ended my explosive intents in school, much to my chagrin. We were never caught and only a couple of years ago before Mrs.. Boyd passed away from MS, did I admit my complicity in the incident. She was in a nursing home at the time and my sister had remained close friends with her these many years. Mrs. Boyd laughed and laughed, she said that every teacher in the school laughed about that incident, except Mrs. Johnson, who wasn't the most cordial of teachers anyway!

Looking and reading your page brought back that wonderful memory. Good luck with all your endeavors. I now like to watch controlled explosions of a different nature. I spent 21 yrs in the U.S. Air Force and now do consulting work in the Aerospace industry. I live only a few miles from Cape Canaveral and Kennedy Space Center. God was kind!

My best wishes to you in your endeavors. Thank you for a few moments of joy perusing your site.

Regards, Rick Manley (SMSgt USAF, Ret)