Community Education

a great movie

Based on a true story, the award-winning movie October Sky was adapted from Homer Hickam's #1 New York Times bestselling memoir Rocket Boys.
Opened: February 19, 1999
Jake Gyllenhaal ... Homer "Sonny" Hickam, Jr.
Chris Cooper ... John Hickam
Natalie Canerday ... Elsie Hickam
Laura Dern ... Miss Riley
Chris Owen ... Quentin Wilson
William Lee Scott ... Roy Lee Cooke
Chad Lindberg ... O'Dell
Scott Thomas ... Jim Hickam
Directed By: Joe Johnston
Produced By: Larry Franco & Charles Gordon
Released By: Universal Pictures
Running Time: 1 hour 48 minutes
Video Release Date: July 2, 1999

Growing up in a small mining town in West Virginia, the future of many of it's young teens were obvious: they would become miners. When 14 year old Homer Hickam, Jr. witnessed the Soviet satellite, Sputnik fly over Coalwood, WV, he knew he was destined to change the inevitable. Watching Sputnik soar across the night sky helped to inspire Homer and a small group of his friends to build and launch their own homemade rockets, thus leading to a local uproar. Before long the boys are able to end the discouraging remarks, and win over the hearts of many, including their chemistry teacher, Miss Riley who helps lead them in the direction to secure their prosperous futures... by attending college.


Universal studio's adaptation of Homer Hickam's memoir Rocket Boys into a major motion picture in 1998 was very well done and Homer is proud of this version of his story. He was a technical consultant on the movie and worked very hard to keep West Virginia stereotypes minimal in this gutsy depiction of his town and family.

Just to whet your curiosity (and get you to read the book to find out the real and much more detailed story) here are some Rocket Boys truths:
(1) Homer's name is not Homer in the book. He used his nickname, "Sonny." His mother gave him the nickname but the Great Six (his Coalwood school teachers) had their own ideas on how it should be spelled
(2) Homer's Dad's name is not John, it is Homer. Homer, Jr. (Sonny) was named after his father
(3) The Rocket Boys were a group of SIX boys not four
(4) The Rocket Boys never stole railroad tracks for rocket supply money. They did, however, go after the cast iron pipe underneath the tracks. Homer almost lost his life doing it
(5) Homer did not quit school to go work in the mines
(6) The Rocket Boys did not win scholarships to go to college. They received, however, a far greater gift

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