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About Airplanes & Rockets
AMA 92498 | ©1996-2015

Welcome to the Airplanes & Rockets Website
"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." Lord Kelvin, 1895

Model Aviation in the News

- Archives -

Drone Owner Registration Called for by House of Lords

What Makes the Feather Soar

Hubble Telescope Sees Rare 3-Moon Shadow Dance on Jupiter

Europe Launches Space Plane

Unmanned Dragon Spaceship Splashes Down After Supplying ISS

NoFlyZone Aims to Keep the Airspace over Your Home Drone-Free

New Rocket, White Tails in ULA’s Long-Term Strategy

Smithsonian Unveils Armstrong Bag with Apollo 11 Lunar Artifacts

FAA on Drones: Fly But Not That High

Bizarre Plumes on Mars Have Scientists Scratching Their Heads

Europe Launches Space Plane with Eye on Strategic Goal

'Drone Shoot-Down Bill' Advances in Oklahoma

Balloon Pilots Return to New Mexico After Historic Flight

CU-Boulder Pitches Telescope That Could Image at Higher-Res Than Hubble

Balloon Pilots Return to New Mexico After Historic Flight

Romanian Who Claimed he Invented World's 1st Jetpack Dies

'Selfies' Contributed to Cessna 150 Accident

Proliferating Threats Open Door to F-35 Follow-On

Video: Atlas 5 Rocket Blasts Off

Solar Impulse 2 Preps for Round-the-World Flight

15th National Soaring Contest

15th National Soaring Contest, November 1948 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsAs with most other forms of aircraft technology the world of gliders has changed significantly in the last half century. The relatively high drag fuselages and low aspect ratio wings, and the wood frame with fabric covering used on most of the sailplanes at the 15th National Soaring Contest is definitely old school compared to today's sleek foam, fiberglass, and carbon fiber airframes that have been computer optimized for drag reduction, speed, and lift generation. Dr. Paul MacReady and son Paul, Jr. were on the scene way back then, and then again in the 20th National Soaring Contest in November 1953 Air Trails and the 21st National Soaring Contest as

Cosmic Radio Signals
from Sun and Stars

Cosmic Radio Signals from Sun and Stars, March 1948 Radio Craft - Airplanes and RocketsNational defense needs have pushed back the frontiers of science and technology since time immemorial. Mechanics, chemistry, medicine, mathematics, psychology, astronomy, electricity, and as of the late nineteenth century, electronics. Astronomy was useful as a navigational tool and required a very sophisticated knowledge of geometry and algebra to make it accessible to seafaring men, cartographers, and land surveyors. Since the early 1900s, radio astronomy has played a huge role in the advancement of super-sensitive receiver designs. Most people think of information arriving to them in two or maybe three forms: sound, visible light, and some (but not many) even consider radio waves. As over-the-air AM and FM radio broadcasts die out, even fewer people are aware of radio

Poll: What Type of Aeromodeling Do You Prefer?

Official Airplanes and Rockets Website Poll
Radio Control:
Control Line:
Free Flight:
Static Display:

The Turbine Jet Engine

Air Progress: The Jet Engine, July 1951 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsTurbine jet engines were still a relatively new invention - at least for commercial airplanes - in 1951. The military was already using them for fighters, but remember that it wasn't until the end of World War II that jet airplanes were seen in the skies, so we're only talking about half a decade of progress. Mr. Douglas Rolfe produced this very finely detailed cross-sectional drawing of a turbine jet engine. It must have taken quite a while to add so much information. Even using modern CAD software would require a lot of time to generate such a drawing. The nice thing about CAD is that if you make a mistake or change something, or maybe want to move part of the drawing to another location on the page, it is a simple

Beyond the "Barrier"

Beyond the Sound "Barrier", November 1948 Air Trails - Airplanes and Rockets"On October 14, 1947, the Bell X-1 became the first airplane to fly faster than the speed of sound. Piloted by U.S. Air Force Capt. Charles E. "Chuck" Yeager, the X-1 reached a speed of 700 miles per hour, Mach 1.06, at an altitude of 43,000 feet." This article appeared in Air Trails a year later in order to help introduce and explain supersonic flight to the modeling public. One of the most unanticipated aspect of supersonic flight was the reversal of aileron control in the transition region. Aerodynamists quickly figured out what was happening and made design alterations to remedy the problem. BTW, 'Muroc' mentioned here is Muroc Air Force Base, which was later

Stunt Rocket Article & Plans

Stunt Rocket Article & Plans, July 1951 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsWalter Musciano is a very familiar name to modelers who cut their teeth on on control line model airplanes back in the middle of the last century. His flying hobby began in the 1930s are a Brooklyn, New York, schoolboy. He won his first contest in 1936. Since that time, Mr. Musciano has designed scores of model airplanes and won numerous contests. This article from the July 1951 edition of Air Trails covers the building of his famous Stunt Rocket. It was a breakthrough design due to its large size and huge, powerful ignition engine. AMA Plans Service still sells the plans

Ornithopter Flapper

Ornithopter Flapper Article & Plans, October 1962 American Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsWebsite visitor Bob B. wrote to ask that I scan and post this "Ornithopter Flapper" from the October 1962 version of American Modeler. There was no accompanying construction article, but it looks pretty simple. Based on the statement that the included plans are half-size, the wingspan works out to about 4-7/8". The AMA Plans Service does offer an ornithopter with a 16" wingspan, so that is not this one. If you want a larger ornithopter, $4 isn't much to pay for a bona fide copy. I always advocate purchasing plans from the AMA Plans Service as a means of supporting the organization

Control Line Capers

Wild Bill Netzeband's Control Line Capers, from September/October 1963 American Modeler Magazine - Airplanes and RocketsHarold Netzenband hit a home run with this month's "Control Line Capers" column in the September / October 1963 edition of American Modeler. It is chock full of good stuff ranging from some incredible multi-engined models (a B-17 Flying Fortress, a P-38 Lightning, and a Grumman S2F-1 Tracker) to sleek control line stunt jobs (Elasic's Impala and Harold Price's retractable landing gear Valkyrie). He also covers a lot of newly introduced modeling accessories

Balsa Density vs. Weight

Balsa density-weight charts by Al and Rod Clark - Airplanes and RocketsAl and Rod Clark created a very nice set of graphs that plot balsa density versus weight for wide variety of balsa sheet thickness, width, and length combinations. There is also a brief discussion on balsa grain (A, B, and C) and how it affects the wood's characteristics. It is hosted on the AMA's website. I also have a page on the subject of balsa wood properties that was derived from a 1970's era Sig Manufacturing catalog, and there is also a nice article on balsa tree foresting and harvesting.

AMA Receives Bill Northrop's
Plans Service Inventory

Academy of Model Aeronautics Receives Bill Northrop's Plans Service Inventory - Airplanes and RocketsAMA Plans Service has been bestowed the entire inventory of Bill Northrop's Plans Service, according to a story in the February 2015 edition of Model Aviation. Stretching back to Model Builder magazine's publication era (1971 through 1991), AMA Hall of Famer Bill Northrop amassed a collection of more than 800 plans, including free flight, radio control, and control line airplanes as well as a few boats. Bill's wife and business partner, Anita, was instrumental in making arrangements for the transfer, so thanks to her. Many sources of 'free' versions of plans are available on the Internet while legitimate copies can still be purchased from the copyright owners. The versions I post here on Airplanes and Rockets were scanned from copies of magazines I own and are meant to be just detailed enough to determine whether you want to purchase a set

Infographic: The Greatest
Turning Points in Aviation

Infographic: The Greatest Turning Points in Aviation (BBC) - Airplanes and RocketsInfographics are a big thing (literally) in the business and science world. Well-done infographics typically have the form of a high aspect ratio drawing that presents a detailed timeline or process flow of events or concepts. The progress can run top to bottom or bottom to top, depending on the creator's intentions. This particular infographic, produced by the BBC's 'Great Turning Points' series, outlines the major milestones in development of flying machines beginning with the Wright Flyer in 1903 and progressing through both manned and unmanned airplanes up through the U.S. Air Force's X-47B in 2014. Four categories of 'milestone moments' are included: pioneering designs, wings of war, record breakers, and globe shrinkers. It would make a nice poster for the wall of your hobby area or, if you're one

Pilotless Plane Run by Radio

Pilotless Plane Run by Radio, May 1946 Radio News - Airplanes and RocketsNews reports are full of features about the wave of radio controlled (R/C) 'drones' terrorizing citizens with their often inexperienced pilots navigating their camera-laden craft to peer into bedroom windows, obtain 'birds-eye' views of sporting events, and to be a general pain in the posterior to people trying to enjoy their right to privacy and safety (except, of course, unless it is the Government choosing to violate them). Incredible advances in radio, navigation, and sensor systems has facilitated a wide variety of very affordable multirotor (the correct term, not 'drone') aircraft that can literally fly themselves. For under $500 you can buy a GPS-guided multirotor that can be programmed to fly to one or more waypoints and return to the launch location, with range and flight duration limited

Eddie Elasick's AMA Stunter

Eddie Elasick's AMA Stunter "Impala", from September/October 1963 American Modeler Magazine - Airplanes and RocketsEddie Elasick was all the rage in Junior control line stunt circles (pun intended) in the early 1960s. His Impala stunter design won him national fame, and the model is still commonly built and flown in Old Time Stunt contests across the country. The 'triple-tail' design and sleek lines that included wheel pants made it stand out amongst competitors of its day. The Impala has a 54" wingspan and originally used a Fox .35 Stunt engine, with a 3.5-oz. fuel tank. Flying weight was around 45 ounces

How to add Radio Controls
to Your Scale Model Auto

How to add Radio Controls to Your Scale Model Auto, October 1962 American Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsEver since radio control systems have been available commercially, modelers have gone to sometimes extreme lengths to retrofit them into items not intended necessarily for R/C. GI Joes have been given servo-controlled arms to maneuver an R/C released parachute after being dropped from an R/C airplane or helicopter. Stuffed animals and dolls have been fitted with motors and controls to make them walk and move their arms. Cheap Styrofoam free flight gliders from the toy department of Walmart have had 2- or 3-channel R/C airborne systems installed to turn the $10 models into respectable thermaling machines. You can buy micro R/C systems and motor propulsion for installing on paper airplanes nowadays. This article reports on an effort to convert free running model cars into

Aerial Horse-Shoe Game
A Study in Aerodynamics

Aerial Horse-Shoe Game: A Study in Aerodynamics, September 1954 Air Trails - Airplanes and Rockets)Boomerangs and kites are rare sights these days. Both devices require a fair amount of real estate to use, and even in the suburbs, that kind of space is getting harder and harder to find. It is amazing to watch television shows and movies from the black and white era and notice how relatively unpopulated cities and towns were compared to today. While watching an early episode of The Beverly Hillbillies the other day, I was struck by how open the Pacific coastline was in the early 1960s, and how nowadays it seems every foot of it is occupied by a house. Even the foothills a ways back from the coast were barren. Nevertheless, it is still possible to buy really nice kites and boomerangs. Many have been

Author: Kirt Blattenberger on Google+
Kirt Blattenberger
Tower Hobbies logo - Airplanes and RocketsCall me a Tower Hobbies groupie, or maybe I'm just lazy, but I have been ordering most (probably >90%) of my modeling supplies from Tower Hobbies since they first opened in the 1970s. I remember anxiously awaiting delivery of my first Carl Goldberg 1/2A Skylane from them. That was before the Internet, when mail order involved hand-writing your order on a form and enclosing a check or money order in an envelope, then dropping it in the mailbox. 3-4 weeks was a typical turn-around time. No, I do not get any perks for posting this.
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Kirt Blattenberger, BSEE

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