Reeling in the Rockets

So, what about that symbol?

The rocket on a fishing rod connects to a story I heard some thirty years ago. It takes place in a very remote and maybe secret rocket launch site in Sweden, during the Cold War.

The site regularly launched reusable weather rockets that, after they had reached their target altitude, had parachutes deploy and bring them back safely to ground.

The only problem was that winds made it difficult to predict where the rockets would land, and retrieving them was often costly and complicated.

Here enters our intrapreneurial hero. It turns out that one of the few men posted on this isolated launch site was quite the inventor. He figured, as you might have done by now, that you could attach a line to the rocket and reel it in with a deep sea fishing rod once the parachute had deployed. According to the legend, it worked.

If true, the Swedish military probably saved lots of taxpayers’ money and time by reeling in rockets by hand, but that wasn’t this story’s pay-off.

As mentioned, this took place at a remote site. In fact, it was so isolated that headquarters decided to send a psychiatrist to assess the people working there. Of course, the first thing that the visiting psychiatrist saw out of her car window was a soldier pointing a big fishing rod to the sky.

Is this story true? Probably not. Swedish Defence Research Agency, FOI, Defence Materiel Administration, FMV, and the museum of launch site Vidsel, RFN Museum, have all been very helpful – Thank You! – but they have not been able to confirm nor deny this story. If you heard a similar legend set in another country, or know more about this one, please let me know!

I decided to keep the symbol though. Fishing for rockets is a good metaphor for taming the wild or catching the ephemeral (as in Karen Köhler’s short story). It’s probably a fitting picture for intrapreneuring.

Red cat by Pejvak Samadani, from Unsplash

Cats are a close second: Like intrapreneurs, they can be wonderful and useful, and definitely have a mind of their own. (Also, there are a lot more pictures of cats available than of rockets tied to fishing rods – and my wife writes children books about spy cats.)

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