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

Photos: Inside the Restoration of a C-53 Skytrooper

Restoration of a C-53 Skytrooper - Airplanes and Rockets"Perhaps it was just a coincidence that led Jason Capra to a back road in Beach City, Ohio, where he'd spot a Douglas DC-3 seemingly abandoned in a field. Perhaps it was destiny. Whatever the forces of the universe were up to that day, it allowed Capra, an airline pilot and self-described WWII airplane enthusiast, to fulfill his childhood dream of owning and restoring a piece of history. And this particular airplane is loaded with history, from its two months as Gen. Douglas MacArthur's personal transport to its service as Buckeye One for Ohio ..."

Flyin' Jenny Comic Strip - December 7, 1941

Flyin' Jenny Comic Strips: December 7, 1941 Baltimore Morning Sun - Airplanes and RocketsFrom the time of the Wright Brothers' successful flights at Kill Devil Hill, Americans have been in love with aviation. In the early days, access to flight was limited to those with know-how and access to the special tools and materials needed to build your own plane - or those who received training in the military. By the 1930s, commercially produced private airplanes became affordable to many "regular" people. As the skies filled with airplanes and more people were flying on commercial airliners, attending air shows, and learning to fly themselves, some of the mystique wore off, but the public still loved a good aviation story. Magazines ...

Vintage Columbia Commuter III, 3-Speed Girl's Bicycle Restoration

Vintage Columbia Commuter III, 3-Speed Girl's Bicycle Restoration, 1980s vintage - Airplanes and RocketsI was not particularly looking for a bicycle when scrolling through a list of "vintage" items on the Erie area craigslist.org website, but when I saw both a men's and a woman's early 1980s era 3-speed bicycles pop up, I had to call. The guy who had them listed said he bought them both at the local K-Mart sometime around 1980 for his wife and him. As with many new endeavors that begin enthusiastically and then die out quickly, neither of them thought the experience was enough to make a lasting pastime. After only a few rides, the bikes were parked in the garage, never to be ridden again ...

Custom R/C Canard Model Airplane by Alain Pons

Custom R/C Canard Model Airplane by Alain Pons - Airplanes and RocketsWebsite visitor Alain Pons, of France, wrote with this great information on his decades-long involvement with designing, building, and flying radio controlled canard model airplanes. Alain graciously agreed to allow me to post his story, photo. and video. He hopes to soon submit plans for his canard, which I am sure will be welcome by modelers looking for a proven design to build, so stay tuned.  "Dear Kirt, Very happy to know you are interested of my work on my canards. I think I am an old dinosaur in aeromodelism. I was born in 1953 and began to glue balsa when I was 10 years old, following my father in free flight, fly by wire and later R/C. And now jets and war birds with big radial ..."

Plane and Fancy Shooting

Plane and Fancy Shooting, September 1957 American Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsI first learned of Peter Bowers because of news coverage of his winning the Experimental Aircraft Associations (EAA) 1962 design contest for his single-seater Fly Baby homebuilt airplane with its unique foldable wings. That allowed the plane to be easily towed to and from the airport rather than needing to pay for hangar or tiedown space. Another unique feature is its all-wood construction - including the landing gear undercarriage. I actually bought a set of plans and construction manual for the Fly Baby Biplane that Bowers later designed based on the Fly Baby monoplane; alas, I never did build it. Peter Bowers was an aviation historian for Boeing Aircraft in Seattle ...

Towed Twin-Fuselage Glider Satellite Launch System

Towed Twin-Fuselage Glider Satellite Launch System - Airplanes and Rockets"NASA successfully flight-tested a prototype, twin-fuselage towed glider that could lead to rockets being launched from pilotless aircraft at high altitudes—a technology application that could significantly reduce cost and im- prove efficiency of sending small satellites into space. The one-third-scale twin fuselage towed glider’s first flight took place Oct. 21, 2014, from NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California. The towed glider is an element of the novel rocket-launching concept of the Towed Glider Air-Launch System (TGALS). NASA Armstrong ..."

Motor of the Month: K&B Torpedo .049 Engine

K&B Torpedo .049, November 1950 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsThe 1950 Academy of Model Aviation (AMA) regulations listed four model engine displacement ranges: Class A: .000-.200 cu. in., Class B: .201-.300 cu. in., Class C: .301-.500 cu. in., and Class D: .501-.650 cu. in. Notice that there was no Class ½A or Class ¼A. That jives with this 1950 article in Air Trails magazine where the K&B Torpedo .049 engine is highlighted. It claims, "Half-A engines started out a short time ago as a mere novelty, but they caught on fast and every manufacturer was in a hurry to get one on the market." It is hard to imagine a time when the .049, .020, and .010 engines were not around, but machinery capable of achieving high production levels of engines with such tight tolerances were ...

Check List New Products, September 1967 American Modeler

Check List New Products, September 1967 American Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsModel aviation magazines have a long-held tradition of dedicating a page or two of each issue to reporting on new products. When I happen to notice an instance of the first announcement of a model, engine, radio, or device that is now in common use, I like to post it along with everything else on the page(s). This September 1967 edition of American Modeler introduced Su-Pr-Line Products' "Nyrod." That was 60 years ago! I know I have been using Nyrod and its clones for as long as I can remember, which is since at least the mid 1970s. When properly supported along its length, Nyrod results ...

A Newspaper's Account of the AMA HQ's Relocation to Muncie

Academy of Models Aeronautics (AMA) Relocation to Muncie, Indiana 1992 - Airplanes As a member of the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) since around 1971 (AMA # 94298), I have witnessed a lot of change in the organization as well as in the model industry. When I first joined as a teenager, AMA headquarters consisted of rented office space in a Washington, D.C., building, Richard Nixon was president, and the war in Viet Nam was on nightly news. AMA headquarters moved into a brand new building, which included museum space, on purchased property in Reston, Virginia, in 1983. A growing AMA membership and the desire to consolidate national competitions to a central location resulted in establishing residence in Muncie, Indiana, where the 25,000 square-foot Frank V. Ehling Complex celebrated its grand opening ...

Vintage Huffy 3 Timberline, 3-Speed Men's Bicycle Restoration, early 1980s

Vintage Huffy 3 Timberline, 3-Speed Men's Bicycle Restoration, early 1980s - Airplanes and RocketsLast week I posted the first part of a story about two 1980s-vintage bicycles I bought from a guy off craigslist. That was the complete teardown and restoration of Melanie's Columbia Commuter III, 3-speed women's model. This page has photos from doing the same thing to my Huffy 3 Timberline, 3-speed men's bicycle. Rather than repeat all the textual description from Melanie's bike, please click on the above hyperlink to read it; it's not very long. At some point I will scan and post the owner's manuals for both bicycles. One important aspect worth repeating is the use of Krud Kutter for removing all the oil and grease ...

Thanks to Ben D. for the Generous Donation!

Thanks for the Donation - Airplanes and RocketsMany thanks to website visitor Ben D. for his $20 donation. Ben is a fellow lover of "rockets, astronomy, science, eclipses, robotics for next gen, creativity with the building blocks of the fabric of the universe," etc. The Airplanes and Rockets website covers a lot of territory from both a hobby and technical perspective. The world is filled with folks like Ben and me who use our available time in pursuit of knowledge and having a bit of fun while doing it. Posting the volumes of text and photos that I do takes a lot of time and dedication, so I appreciate when someone helps "pay the freight," so to speak. I believe this might be the first ever donation from anyone ...

What Do Kennedy's Chappaquiddick Incident and Apollo 11 Have in Common?

Ted Kennedy's Chappaquiddick Drowning of Mary Jo Kopechne - Airplanes and RocketsWith all the reports of powerful men being outed for abuses against helpless women, this recently discovered article seems timely. Last summer while visiting a local yard sale I spotted the Sunday, July 21, 1969 edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newspaper. The front page gushed with coverage of the historic Apollo 11 moon mission where on the previous day Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed at Tranquility Base. However, turn the page and I found it is consumed with a report on Senator Ted Kennedy's incident at Chappaquiddick where he drove his car off that tragically famed bridge. While our brave astronauts were flying to the moon, Kennedy was killing Mary Jo Kopechne ...

Birth of the Bizjet

Birth of the Bizjet - RF Cafe"When Frank Sinatra decided to drop a cool half-million on an airplane to shuttle his Rat Pack pals between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, he chose a Lear Jet. For Bill Lear's company, 1965 was a very good year. Lear was 61 when he decided to get into the aircraft production business. Although he'd never designed an airplane, the self-trained engineer was known for his inventions, including the first jet autopilot, for which he'd received the 1949 Collier Trophy. In the late 1950s, Lear and his family were living in Switzerland, where he hoped to expand his avionics ..."

We Built the Saturn V - Great Photos!

We Built the Saturn V - RF Cafe"The 'V' stood for the five giant F-1 rocket engines—still the most powerful ever built - clustered at the bottom of the Saturn V's first stage. At one point a four-engine version, the Saturn IV, had been considered, but in the complicated tradeoffs that led to the final design of NASA's moon rocket, the 'V' variant won out. What became the Saturn grew out of a U.S. military requirement in the late 1950s for a booster big enough to launch large satellites. Wernher von Braun, who had dreamed as a young engineer in Germany of a rocket capable of reaching the moon, was enlisted with his U.S. Army ..."

The Lilium EDF "Jet"

The Lilium EDF Jet - Airplanes and RocketsLilium enables you to travel 5 times faster than a car by introducing the world's first all-electric vertical take-off and landing jet: an air taxi for up to 5 people. You won't have to own one, you will simply pay per ride and call it with a push of a button. It's our mission to make air taxis available to everyone and as affordable as riding a car. In 1894, Otto Lilienthal began experimenting with the first gliders and imagined a future in which we could all fly wherever we want ..."

Cox Model 789-3, 1½-Volt Starting Battery - Scans

Cox Model 789-3, 1½-Volt Starting Battery - Airplanes and RocketsWebsite visitor George A. wrote to ask for the dimensions of the Cox model 789-3, 1½-volt starting battery box so that he can create one using his printer. He also needed high resolution images of all sides. The photos below show both sides of the flattened box, along with a ruler for scale. The scans have not been edited except to move the terminal clips closer to the box to keep file size down, so edit color and sharpness as you deem fit ...

Aerospace Headline News

Tech Industry Headlines - RF Cafe- Archives -

Aviation Explorers Launches Youth Representatives Program

Commercial Airliner Hits Drone in Canada

FAA Seeks 'Emergency' Action on Drones

What's Wrong with Experimental Pilots?

Drone Hits Army Helicopter Flying over Staten Island

Tragedy of Americana: California Wildfire Destroys 'Peanuts' Creator's Home

Drones Deliver Storm Response

Vintage Aviation Publications Acquires Warbirds News

'Strega' Dethrones 'Voodoo' at Reno Air Races

North Korea's Antonov AN-2 Biplane

North Korea's Antonov AN-2 Biplane - Airplanes and Rockets"Kim Jong-un could launch nuclear bombing raids on South Korea using 70-year-old biplanes so slow they cannot be tracked by modern radars. North Korean despot Kim Jong-un is preparing his special forces for suicide parachute missions across the border on 70-year-old Stalin era biplanes. The dictator has a fleet of 300 Antonov An-2 transport aircraft which are capable of flying as slow as 30 miles-per-hour and can even go backwards into a heavy headwind. Footage has emerged of North Korean paratroops jumping from the aged aircraft ..."

NASA Tests Could Lead to FAA Integration of UAVs

NASA Tests Could Lead to FAA Integration of UAVs - Airplanes and Rockets"NASA's Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration in the National Airspace System, or UAS in the NAS, project is attracting international attention as increasingly complex flight tests take place over NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center in California. The project is designed to develop recommendations for the FAA to safely open the skies to allow UAS to fly in the same airspace with human-piloted aircraft. Using NASA's remotely piloted Ikhana aircraft as a demonstration platform  ..."

Breed of the Hellfire

Breed of the Hellfire, February 1941 Flying Aces - Airplanes and RocketsArch Whitehouse authored many aviation-related techno-thriller mysteries for Flying Aces magazine. He was a British World War I veteran with the RAF as a mechanic and observer. In this adventure, Hale Aviation Company's intrepid chief test pilot Crash Carringer took on the challenge of identifying the cause of an unreasonably high number of deaths of Hellfire aircraft fighter pilots while in the air. I won't spoil the plot by giving any details of the story. It's a good way to kill 20-30 minutes ...

Reliable Perching Makes Fixed-Wing UAVs Much More Useful

Reliable Perching Makes Fixed-Wing UAVs Much More Useful - Airplanes and Rockets"UAV designs are a perpetual compromise between the ability to fly long distances efficiently with payloads (fixed-wing) and the ability to maneuver, hover, and land easily (rotorcraft). With a very few rather bizarre exceptions, any aircraft that try to offer the best of both worlds end up relatively complicated, inefficient, and expensive. A group of researchers from the University of Sherbrooke in Canada have come very close to making that happen, with a little airplane that uses legs and claws to reliably perch on walls ..."

Cheaper, Lighter, Quieter: The Electrification of Flight Is at Hand

Bye Aerospace Sun Flyer - Airplanes and Rockets"Our small electric plane, which uses light and powerful batteries and motors, is less costly than its gasoline-engine rivals. When you first sit in the cockpit of an electric-powered airplane, you see nothing out of the ordinary. However, touch the Start button and it strikes you immediately: an eerie silence. There is no roar, no engine vibration, just the hum of electricity and the soft whoosh of the propeller. You can converse easily with the person in the next seat, without headphones. The silence ..."

Mills "Brothers" ½A Diesel Engines from England

Mills "Brothers" - ½A Diesel Engines from England, January 1952 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsHere is an interesting bit of history. According to this article from a 1952 issue of Air Trails magazine, the reason British model engine designers switched from ignition type engines to diesel was due to a shortage of copper element wire and other components brought about by World War II. Diesels are still very popular in Europe both for model airplanes and full-size automobiles. The Alternative Fuels Data Center claims that diesel fuel has a 13% greater energy density that gasoline, which jives with many other independent sources, some of which say overall efficiency is up to 20% greater. Diesel just has never really "caught on" here in the U.S. for some reason - maybe its the stinky exhaust. One nice aspect ...

If I Were Air Corps Chief...

If I Were Air Corps Chief..., January 1941 Flying Aces - Airplanes and RocketsThe Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was a year away when this article would have been written, given that it appeared in the January 1941 issue of Flying Aces magazine. Major Frederic Ives Lord preferred a light-weight, inexpensive, more expendable type of aircraft like the P-40 Warhawk than something like a P-51 Mustang. His thinking being that it would be more effective to overwhelm the enemy with massive squadrons of airplanes that could be quickly replaced (and pilots, too?) rather than recovering and repairing battle-damaged aircraft (and their air crew). In fact, the major envisioned mostly enlisted pilots, akin to the expendable crewmen in Star Trek - usually identifiable by their red ...

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About Airplanes & Rockets

Kirt Blattenberger, Webmaster - Airplanes and Rockets
Kirt Blattenberger
Carpe Diem!
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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. There is a lot of good information and there are lot of pictures throughout the website that you will probably find useful, and might even bring back some old memories from your own days of yore. The website began life around 1996 as an EarthLink screen name of ModelAirplanes, and quickly grew to where more server space ...

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