Homer Hickam was a young boy from a West Virginia mining town who hungered for his father�s approval. He knew he could earn it by following in his father�s footsteps and spending his life down in the mines. But Homer had a dream�to go to college and to devote his life to rocket technology. October Sky was the true story of the pivotal events that led Homer Hickam to move closer to his two goals of reaching for the sky and gaining his father�s respect.
The title of October Sky is very significant. The Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the world's first man-made satellite, in the sky on October 5, 1997. Hence the name of the movie October Sky. In the Soviet Union's announcement about the launch of the satellite, they said "the world could now see how the new socialist society turns even the most daring of man's dreams into a reality." After the launch of Sputnik, everything changed in Homer Hickam's life: his social life, intelligence, leadership, and his future. The launch of Sputnik captured the public's imagination and influenced many people as well as Homer to learn more about the satellite and space. It was in the October Sky that people around the world finally realized the capabilities of mankind; they realized man can turn his dreams into reality, just like Homer did. His dream to fly off into the October Sky was an influence for him to become a NASA engineer. The dream then became developed into a reality.
When Homer's teacher tells him "You can't just dream your way out of Coalwood," she wanted Homer to stop dreaming about going to college and dreaming about rocket technology, but actually try and do it himself. Homer�s effort to make the football team as a stepping stone to getting a college scholarship showed his courage and determination. Although he failed in sports, he quickly realized that the field of science and rocketry could offer him an even better opportunity to build an exciting, satisfying future. Miss Riley's statement influenced Homer to urge for a college scholarship and try to succeed in the area of rocketry. When Homer decided to work in the mines, which he vowed not to go in, he sacrificed his education and his future dream all for his family's well being. Miss Riley gained disappointments for Homer when she found out that he was working in the mines even with his vast knowledge and capability in science. After all the things she did for Homer to get a good education and trying to influence him for a "life outside of Coalwood," it seemed that Miss Riley thought of herself as a failure of being a good teacher. After Miss Riley spoke to Homer, he was quickly inspired to try harder for the college scholarship to try and get a job dealing with his passion in amateur rockets and science.
In October Sky, one of the main characters said," People in Coalwood are more interested in what is below the ground than above the ground." This meant that the civilians in Coalwood heavily relied on their coal, which was mined under-ground, to keep their town alive. To the people, Coalwood was more interested in the coal producing than almost anything else not related to mining. When there was a strike from the miners, people were very concerned because if they didn't have anyone to mine coal, their town would have been in a lot trouble. The remark affected Homer greatly. He didn't want to believe that he was living in a town where coal was their obsession. He wanted to change the way of the town where every single person without a sports scholarship always turned out to be a coal-miner. The desire to change the way of his town, as well as to become a rocket scientist, urged him to go to college. When Homer was younger, he knew that if he didn't go to college off of a football scholarship, he'd be a coal-miner like most of the other men in his town. Vowing never to go down into the mines, he went off to college off of desire of working with rockets as well as to stop fearing about going into the mines.
In October Sky, Homer Hickam had to deal with a large obstacle blocking his dream of becoming a rocket scientist. Due to the accusations of burning and starting a forest fire, Homer and his friends were in deep trouble. After feeling guilty about his father's accident in the coal-mines, Homer decided to drop out of school to help his family out financially by working in the mines. Without enrollment in school, all chances of entering the national science fair to receive a college scholarship would be lost. The main reason why he couldn't enroll back in school was the fact that the boys were arrested for starting a forest fire with dangerous materials. To validate his innocence, Homer decided to prove the officers wrong by using calculus, trigonometry, and as well as physics. Homer used an equation S=1/2 at� where a is the acceleration and t is the time the rocket stayed in the air. S would be the distance of the rocket's travel. In the film, Homer and one of his friends went over the mathematical equations and calculated the exact location of the rocket's landing. After failing to find the rocket in a nearby stream, Homer suddenly remembered one variable in his experiment he forgot to add-wind. Just as he said, "If there was wind that day, it would have been blowing northeast. Then the rocket would have landed�. there," he used the formula correctly and even spent a couple days without sleep to figure it out.
October Sky is based on the triumphant true story of Homer Hickam Jr., a high school student in a rural West Virginian town, who seemed destined to follow his father�s harsh life in the coal mines until he turned his attention to the skies. His ambition to exceed all for his passion influences him to go to a good college. With his support from his friends, classmates, his teacher, and even his family, he is destined to win the national science fair by learning calculus, advanced trigonometry, and even physics by himself, in order to do what he wants to do the most- work with rockets. At odds with his father, determined to surpass himself and inspired by the dawn of the space age, he leaves on a visionary mission that changes his life forever.