How to Make Fireworks Whistle Rockets

Written by Harry Gilliam

Topics: How to Make Fireworks

I think a really impressive fireworks device speaks for itself, so here’s a video of one of these whistling firework rockets in action.

Video of a One-Pound Fireworks Whistle Rocket

A whistle rocket does just that: whistles and screeches as it leaps skyward. The motor uses the same whistle fuel that was used in the “How to make a whistle” article. Whistling rockets are “hot.” They leap off the launch pad and can really reach a seriously high altitude if they’re made well.

I’ve made whistle rockets in sizes from 1/4-inch ID super-bottle-rockets up to 1.5-inch-ID “six-pounders.”

I’ve lifted some big ball shells (called “headings” when they’re carried by rockets) with the larger whistle rockets. But, often they fly so high that the effect of such a heading is lost. For that reason I prefer to simply put a large report heading on them with some coarse titanium in it for impressive silver sparks when the header explodes.

Other variations in construction can include various “delay” effects during the coasting portion of the flight following the initial powerful thrust portion–from simply allowing the rocket to continue whistling across the sky, to having the whistle change to a brilliant red flare or a color changing one, before the heading finishes the rocket’s flight.

Be aware, though, that whistle rockets are not your “father’s black-powder rockets.” The rocket fuel used in these babies is powerful. If the rocket engines are not dialed in carefully and fused properly, very impressive CATO’s (“bombs on a stick”) can result.

Warning: Do not EVER hand-ram whistle rockets using a mallet. The fuel is sensitive and could be set off in that process. Whistle rockets must be pressed using a manual arbor press for small rockets or a hydraulic press for larger motors, which require more pressure. It is wise to use a safety shield on a press just in case something goes wrong and the motor ignites during construction.

Hydraulic Rocket-Press with Safety Shield

Hydraulic Rocket-Press with Safety Shield

I’ll be using the same fuel that I specified in the article on making whistles. The alternative fuels I mentioned in that essay can be used to make whistle rocket motors. But there will be the requisite “dialing in” in order to maximize performance and consistency with those variations.

Whistle-Rocket Fuel on Paper Lined Tray

Whistle-Rocket Fuel on Paper Lined Tray

So, study that article and make some of that whistle fuel, observing all the pertinent safety precautions.

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