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"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." Lord Kelvin, 1895

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• P–51 Dead-Stick, Off-Airport Landing

Hobby Drones Banned Near Hawaii Volcano

• How Much of the World's Population Has Flown in an Airplane?

• Interior Department Awards 1st Contract for Small UAS Services

FAA: Fly Under the Special Rule for Model Aircraft

WomenVenture Returns to Oshkosh

Time to Change 50-Year-Old Aviation Curriculum

Companies Team to Develop Avionics for Drones

FAA to Discontinue DUATS Program in May

Webb Telescope Launch Delayed Until 2020

Aviation, Social Mobility, and the American Dream

Atomic-Power Air Transport

Atomic-Power Air Transport, January 1952 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsAtomic-powered aircraft was another dream of mid-last-century visionaries. It was the post World War II era where, following the demonstration of nuclear energy's awesome capacity demonstrated in Japan, plans were being made to harness its capacity for peaceful uses. Large scale atomic power electricity and steam generation stations being designed and built. So, too, were personal nuclear power packs, atomic-powered car, boats, submarines, airplanes, rockets, and trains envisioned. Unfortunately, designers soon learned that safe containment of the fuel made small form factor generators impractical. Unfortunately, a few accidents in power stations has spooked ...

Student Pilot Crashes During Unauthorized Solo Flight

Student Pilot Crashes During Premature Solo Flight - Airplanes and RocketsNotice the tail number has been blotted out. "A student pilot who was training at Fullerton Airport in southern California is in major trouble after an incident on Sunday. Too eager for his first solo, the man took a Cessna 172 from a local flying club without permission, but was unable to successfully complete his mission. Fullerton's airport manager Brendan O’Reilly said the student pilot had recently joined the RI Flying Club, which had the Cessna 172 as part of its fleet. O'Reilly said the flying club has been operating at the airport for more than 30 years without any incidents. The student pilot was not qualified to fly the airplane solo, but somehow snagged the keys and took the airplane to the skies. The student pilot made not one, not two, not three, not four, but five attempts at landing, each time messing up the airplane more ..."

An Interview with The Paper Airplane Guy, John Collins

An Interview with The Paper Airplane Guy, John Collins - Airplanes and RocketsJohn Collins is the undisputed Paper Airplane Guy. He set a new world record flight distance of 26 feet, 10 inches, in 2012. He wrote a book titled, The World Record Paper Airplane and International Award Winning Designs. This article is from an appearance on the Conan O'Brien show, and includes a video of Mr. Collins demonstrating how to fold and launch paper airplanes ...

Museum Launches 100th Anniversary of Airmail Exhibit Online

Museum Launches 100th Anniversary of Airmail Exhibit Online - Airplanes and Rockets"The San Diego Air & Space Museum's Library & Archives recently launched a new online exhibit commemorating the 100th Anniversary of U.S. Airmail. On a fog-shrouded May 15th, in 1918, the first airplane to provide regularly scheduled airmail service in the United States took off from the Potomac Park polo grounds in Washington, D.C., headed to New York City, a 218-mile route. Sponsored by the U.S. Post Office, and personally sent off by President Woodrow Wilson, this has proven to be a most important day in our nation's history ..."

JETicopter Advertisement, January 1952 Air Trails

JETicopter Advertisement, January 1952 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsFlying model helicopters of any sort were fairly rare in 1952, when this edition of Air Trails magazine hit the news stands. The sophisticated, miniaturized, smart stabilization systems of today's models were not available at any price, and radio control was the realm of military research vehicles. Methods for driving the rotors included glow and gas engines, rubber bands, and even Jetex engines. Many free flight helicopters sported the JETicopter's arrangement of a pair of engines at the end of a moment arm which caused rotation. Cox .010 and .020 engines were a popular choice, as were the Jetex engines. I always wondered what happened when ...

Crosley 03CB Vintage Console Radio for Sale on eBay

Crosley 03CB Vintage Console Radio - RF CafeEvery couple years a Crosley 03CB console radio shows up on eBay. I keep a Saved Search to get an e-mail when one becomes available, mainly to get an idea of how many are still around. My research based on issues of old newspaper advertisements indicates the Crosley 03CB models were primarily sold in the PA, NJ, NY, DE, CT, OH, and MD areas. Per the eBay listing: "Working condition, lights up and plays some stations. Need some refinishing on the cabinet." If you are looking for a restoration project, this would be a good subject for only $50. As can be seen from my restored Crosley 03CB radio, the cabinet and electronics are very robust and attractive. It's worth a look ...

Alpha Male Flirts with Bravo Airspace on a Sightseeing Excursion

Alpha Male Flirts with Bravo Airspace on a Sightseeing Excursion - Airplanes and Rockets"It was a beautiful Sunday morning, and nobody was flying. My open-cockpit biplane, a Great Lakes 2T-1A-1, was just the answer for a relaxing start to the day. It's a great airplane for sightseeing. It flies low and slow, and turns on a dime. I departed Montgomery Airport (KMYF) in San Diego and put down at nearby Gillespie Field (KSEE) for a delicious cheese omelet. When I departed, it was still a ghost town; the Gillespie controller even offered an intersection departure on the perpendicular runway, just for fun. I departed into the clear, gorgeous empty sky. What could possibly go wrong? I let my instincts ..."

Who Flew What in the 1962 American Radio Plane Championships

Who Flew What in the American Radio Plane Championships, 1963 Annual Edition American Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsThe 1962 AMA Nationals competition was considered the first major contest for scale radio controlled airplanes. To wit, this article from the 1963 Annual edition of American Modeler, says R/C scale "finally 'came of age.'" Proportional radio sets were becoming common and the reliability of the airborne electronics and batteries was going up while weight and size was coming down. Modelers were much more willing to trust the radios to safely control models that often took many hundreds of hours to build. Sharing frequencies at or near to the 27 MHz band allocated by the FCC to R/C was still a huge risk, but the venues of major contests provided protected areas that were far enough from most interference ...

Drones Technology Changes the Face of Combat

Drones Technology Changes the Face of Combat - Airplanes and Rockets"Drones are not, as is often assumed, a 21st-century develop­ment. Far from it. Their history goes back more than 100 years, but the rate at which they are changing our everyday life continues to accelerate. So we thought it is worth looking back and seeing where the concept came from, how it developed, and where it stands today. Given the current rate of change, it's obvious we're only seeing the tip of what is going to turn out to be a very big technological and cultural iceberg. Drones constitute a fundamental transformation in both military and civilian realms. In an unmanned air system (UAS), the miniaturization in technologies ..."

Reaching for the Moon

Reaching for the Moon (April 1938 Boys' Life Article) - Airplanes and Rockets1938 was still two decades away from when America would launch its first Earth-orbiting satellite and three decades from when man would first walk on the moon, yet work was well underway by enthusiastic aerospace engineers, scientists, astronomers, project managers, and others to accomplish those goals. While this Boys' Life article boasts of rockets attaining speeds of 800 miles per hour, leaving Earth's gravitational pull for a trip to the moon would require a escape velocity of 25,000 miles per hour. Telescopes powerful enough to survey the moon's surface for determining a safe location for landing were being readied with telescopes like constructed 200-inch Hale reflector ...

Albatross Robot Takes Flight

Albatross Robot Takes Flight - Airplanes and Rockets"MIT engineers have designed a robotic glider that can skim along the water’s surface, riding the wind like an albatross while also surfing the waves like a sailboat. In regions of high wind, the robot is designed to stay aloft, much like its avian counterpart. Where there are calmer winds, the robot can dip a keel into the water to ride like a highly efficient sailboat instead. The robotic system, which borrows from both nautical and biological designs, can cover a given distance using one-third as much wind as an albatross and traveling 10 times faster than a typical sailboat. The glider is also relatively lightweight, weighing about 6 pounds. The researchers hope ..."

Debunking Hitler's Luftwaffe

Debunking Hitler's Luftwaffe, May 1941 Flying Aces - Airplanes and RocketsLess than a year before the U.S. was officially drawn into World War II with surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, American fighter pilot Lieutenant Thomas McBride provided this first-hand report on what he perceived to be the current status of the German air force (Luftwaffe). While in France he noted bizarre behavior of young German pilots, often with no more than a few hours of flight instruction, making deadly rookie flying mistakes and strafing ambulances and farm animals for sport and blood lust. Older pilots with slower reflexes were put in higher performance aircraft and could not compete with younger British pilots, while plebes in the same airplanes could not, due to insufficient training, handle the power and maneuverability. Blacking out under high G forces and not allowing sufficient altitude for vertical bombing runs spelled the end to many Luftwaffe airmen ...

A.C. Gilbert Heritage Society

A.C. Gilbert Heritage Society - Airplanes and RocketsHaving been a typical kid in the 1960s and '70s, I had an Erector Set. It was Set 3 per my memory, based on remembering the box lid picture. You might recall a set or two of your own. Alfred Carlton Gilbert founded the A.C. Gilbert company in 1909 in Westville, Connecticut, and produced many varieties of Erector Sets, as well as other educational hobby items like chemistry sets (I had one of those, too). The A.C. Gilbert Engineering Society website has a really nice history on the company and lots of photos - including likely one of the Erector Set your parents gave you ...

Laser-Powered Robot Insect Achieves Lift Off

Laser-Powered Robot Insect Achieves Lift Off - Airplanes and Rockets"For robots of all sizes, power is a fundamental problem. Any robot that moves is constrained in one way or another by power supply, whether it's relying on carrying around heavy batteries, combustion engines, fuel cells, or anything else. It's particularly tricky to manage power as your robot gets smaller, since it's much more straightforward to scale these things up rather than down - and for really tiny robots (with masses in the hundreds of milligrams range), especially those that demand a lot of power, there really isn't a good solution. In practice, this means that on the scale of small insects ..."

SIG Manufacturing Company Advertisement c1963

SIG Manufacturing Company Advertisement, January/February 1963 American Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsSIG Manufacturing, forever located in Montezuma, Iowa, is among the ranks of a dwindling number of America's original model airplane kit and accessories makers and distributors. Sig's catalog from the early 1970s was the first hobby catalog I ever owned. You can bet I read it cover-to-cover many times, wishing to own everything on its pages. In case you don't know, the name SIG is a shortened version of Sigafoose, which is the last name of the company founders, Glen and Hazel Sigafoose. According to a press release, "In February 2011 SIG Manufacturing Co., Inc. was purchased by Herb Rizzo (President), David Martin (VP and General Manager), and Ron Petterec (VP) ...

Flyin' Jenny Comic Strip: January 25, 1942 Baltimore Morning Sun

Flyin' Jenny Comic Strips: January 25, 1942 Baltimore Morning Sun - Airplanes and RocketsThis is the January 25, 1942, "Flyin' Jenny" comic strip. The Baltimore Sun newspaper, published not far from where I grew up near Annapolis, Maryland, carried "Flyin' Jenny" from the late 1930s until the strip ended in the mid 1940s, so I saved a couple dozen from there. The first one I downloaded has a publication date of December 7, 1941 - that date "which will live in infamy," per President Roosevelt. Many Americans were receiving word over the radio of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor while reading this comic at the breakfast table. I expect that soon there will be World War II themes. "Flyin' Jenny," whose real name was Virginia Dare (what's in a name?) ...

Helicopter to Accompany NASA's Next Mars Rover to Red Planet

Helicopter to Accompany NASA's Next Mars Rover to Red Planet - RF Cafe"Promising results from recent ground testing and a funding boost provided by a new NASA budget passed by Congress earlier this year helped NASA leadership decide that the 4-pound Mars Helicopter could be ready in time for launch with the space agency's next rover mission in July 2020. 'You should see the big smile on my face right now,' said Mimi Aung, project manager for the Mars Helicopter mission at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. 'It's phenomenal because this has never been done before.' In an interview with Spaceflight Now on Friday, Aung said nearly 5 years ..."

Easily Made Fiberglass Cowls

Easily Made Fiberglass Cowls, 1962 Annual Edition American Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsWebsite visitor Dan T. (see his photos from a decades-ago use of this method) wrote to ask that I scan and post this article, which appeared in the 1962 Annual edition of American Modeler magazine, on making fiberglass cowls. It is a variation on vacuum bagging that exploits the even tension applied by the elasticity of a rubber balloon. Although limited to relatively small forms, it has the advantage of low cost and complexity, and it eliminates the potential nuisance of the mold release agent not being fully coated and causing separation issues. This method will probably not work too well with shapes that need localized indented areas more than 1/32" to maybe 1/16" deep (like cooling fins). The article did not originally make ...

Research Examines Wing Shapes to Reduce Vortex and Wake

Research Examines Wing Shapes to Reduce Vortex and Wake - RF Cafe"Recent research demonstrated that, although most wing shapes used today create turbulent wake vortices, wing geometrics can be designed to reduce or eliminate wingtip vortices almost entirely. In the study, the vortex and wake characteristics were computed for three classic wing designs: the elliptic wing, and wing designs developed in classic studies by the researchers. It's common to see line-shaped clouds in the sky, known as contrails, trailing behind the engines of a jet airplane. What's not always visible is a vortex coming off of the tip of each wing - like two tiny horizontal tornadoes - leaving behind a turbulent wake ..."

How to Buy a Warbird

How to Buy a Warbird - RF Cafe"By today's standards, warbirds are clunky, noisy, dirty, inefficient and expensive to operate, not to mention almost completely impractical. Despite those drawbacks, owning and operating a warbird can be thrilling. Flying an ex-military airplane demands pilots update their flying experience to ready themselves for the challenges of handling an airplane that’s often configured with conventional landing gear and connected to power plants that create sizable amounts of torque. Most warbird pilots told us they began their warbird experience by logging time in either a T-6 or Stearman ..."

Women's Work

Women's Work, from April 1951 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsRosie the Riveter is perhaps most recognized symbol of wartime aircraft production, having come about in World War II (although women also built trucks, tanks, guns, sewed uniforms, made boots,...). She is also symbolic of women entering the workforce en masse. After WWII, many women went back to being housewives and raising families with war-weary servicemen looking to resume peaceful lives. The respite didn't last long, as the Korean conflict began within a week of the time the first atom bomb was dropped on Japan in August of 1945. The U.S. entered the fray in fall of 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea. Once again, America's women answered ...

Zunum Aero's Hybrid Electric Airplane Aims to Rejuvenate Regional Travel

Zunum Aero's Hybrid Electric Airplane Aims to Rejuvenate Regional Travel - Airplanes and Rockets"The startup is building short-haul aircraft for Boeing and JetBlue that combine gas turbines and batteries. In the century that's elapsed since the dawn of commercial aviation, air transportation has become pretty well refined. Yet paradoxically, it's easier to fly halfway around the world than to travel to a nearby city. As a result, many people shun air travel when taking short trips. ..."

Virgin Galactic Completes 1st Rocket-Powered Unity Spacecraft Launch

Virgin Galactic Completes 1st Rocket-Powered Unity Spacecraft Launch - Airplanes and Rockets"Virgin Galactic successfully launched and landed its Unity spacecraft by rocket power, completing its first powered flight in almost four years. Richard Branson's space company shared a photo of the SpaceShipTwo model spacecraft as it blasted into the air above the Mojave Air and Space Port before going supersonic and landing safely. "VSS Unity completed her first supersonic, rocket-powered flight this morning in Mojave, California. Another great test flight, another ..."

A Status Report of Aviation and Aerospace Education in California

A Status Report of Aviation and Aerospace Education in California - Airplanes and RocketsAfter seeing an article titled, "High School Aviation: California Style," from the June 1968 issue of American Aircraft Modeler magazine, website visitor Janice H. sent me a copy of this 1972 document titled, "A Status Report of Aviation and Aerospace Education in California," by Earl W. Sams, California State Department of Education, Sacramento. Janice is working to get the Anderson Valley High School in Boonville, California, to create a memorial to the program and its administrators and students ...


Boats: Speed, Scale, Radio Control

Boats: Speed, Scale, Radio Control, January 1961 American Modeler Magazine - Airplanes and RocketsCompetitive model boating was a popular sport in the 1960's as radio control systems became more affordable and reliable. Of course if you have a glitch in your radio with a boat, the consequences are usually much less that with an airplane. This report in a 1962 edition of American Modeler magazine tells of one California model boating club that lost its "field" (a park lake) due to "excessive and unnecessary noise." Yep, it was happening way back then. On the other hand, it also reports on a club in New Jersey where the parks department constructed a pier for them to use. As usual, your fortunes depend on the preferences and sentiments of government bureaucrats. Many people these days are using brushless motor setups in their ...

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Even during the busiest times of my life I have endeavored to maintain some form of model building activity. This site has been created to help me chronicle my journey through a lifelong involvement in model aviation, which all began in Mayo, MD ...
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Kirt Blattenberger
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