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Bloomington Father And Son Duo's Rocket, Parachute Expertise Has Hollywood, NASA Calling

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A father and son from Bloomington have dedicated their lives to something most of us only get to watch in the movies.

Ky Michaelson is a space and movie stunt enthusiast who has transformed his home into a museum of rocketry and Hollywood history.

Walking through Michaelson's house gives a feeling of sensory overload. Pieces of rockets, contraptions, gadgets and memorabilia are everywhere you turn.

Ky Michaelson
Ky Michaelson (credit: CBS)

Michaelson shows off Pete Conrad's racing suit, the second man to walk on the moon.

"About six of the guys that have walked on the moon, I've had the privilege of meeting through the years," Michaelson said.

He points to a rocket belt, a flying motorcycle and even a rocket-powered toilet he calls the "S.S. Flusher."

Michaelson may have a real claim to the title "Most Interesting Man in the World."

"I hold some 72 state [and] national speed records," he said. "Rocket-powered cars, and boats and snowmobiles. I've been involved in through almost all my life."

Michaelson has no formal training or schooling in rocketry or science.

"I dropped out of school in ninth grade," he said. "I'm totally dyslexic. I learned how to read and write in my 60s when I wrote a book."

A natural tinkerer, Michaelson has built stunt equipment used in many movies, including the rockets in "October Sky," starring Jake Gyllenhaal.

Autographed Hollywood memorabilia is literally wallpaper in his house. He has concrete handprints of stars like Lee Majors and Burt Reynolds on display, like the ones on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles.

Michaelson is also the first civilian ever to launch a rocket into space. Now he's trying to do it again, this time with an astronaut inside. He's working with his 20-year-old son, Buddy Rocketman Michaelson.

Buddy Michaelson
Buddy Michaelson (credit: CBS)

"That is my legal middle name, on my birth certificate and my driver's license," Buddy said.

Michaelson proudly points to a baby picture of Buddy holding a fake stick of dynamite in one hand and a rocket in the other.

"He's 15 minutes old, so you see the kid is primed to be in the business [laughs]!" Michaelson said.

Buddy's full-time job is creating parachutes.

"We built parachutes for NASA, SpaceX, ULA, just about every single aerospace company you can think of," he said. "I'm talking to them at 20 years old and building chutes for these big projects. It's pretty cool."

Buddy does more of the work in the shop as Ky gets older, but both men learn from each other.

"I'm very proud of Buddy," Michaelson said. "He's so far advanced from where I was."

Buddy says it's nice having the same passion as his father because they can spend time together.

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