- Model Aviation in the News -
Solar Plane Departs St. Louis on Next Leg of U.S. Tour
Some Pilots of Small Drones Skirt FAA Rules
Airbus A350 Makes Its Maiden Test Flight
Bicycle Makes Riders High-Flyers
TEDGlobal: Visions of the Future of Flying
EPFL Presents Modular Aircraft at Paris Air Show
Lightweight Galaxy is Smallest Ever Found RAF Museum Lifts Nazi Bomber off Floor of English Channel
Kepler Stars Are Bigger Than Thought
Alien-Hunting Telescope Could be Ready in 5 Years
Never-Before-Seen Alien Planet Just 300 LYs from Earth
Dominos Pizza Delivery Drone
Thought-Guided Helicopter Takes Off
Connecticut Senate Passes Bill Writing Wright Brothers out of History
Arkyd 100 Unveiled as First Crowdfunded Space Scope
Boeing Completes Commercial Crew Spacecraft and Rocket MilestonesAl Qaeda Plan to Use RC Planes to Spread Chemical Weapons over EU and N. America Uncovered
Terrafugia Unveils Concept for Vertical Take-off Flying Car
Artist "Roland" (not sure if that was his first or last name) drew a series of comics for American Modeler in the 1960s that played off of typical humorous scenarios that occurred then - and now - in the modeling world. See if any of these themes are familiar from your own experiences.
Sketchbook Hints & Kinks
This Sketchbook was scanned from the January 1962 American Modeler. There are a couple ideas in this edition that I would not recommend. The first is a method for attaching the primary handle of your control line model to a separate handle that allows the primary to pivot, thereby enabling the pilot to simply hold the contraption above his head and letting the airplane fly in circles without the pilot needing to turn with it. It might seem clever, but I can imagine a whole lot of things that could go wrong with that scenario! The second not-recommended item is placing a piece of sponge material between a transistor package and the circuit board and then saturating it with a volatile chemical prior to soldering the leads in order to allow the evaporative action wick...
Sketchbook: Modeling Tips
Hot Knife, Field Repair
Here is another of American Modeler's Sketchbook series of helpful hints and tricks for making your model building efforts a bit easier. An example is showing how to attach an X-acto blade to a soldering gun to make a hot knife. It uses a #11 blade, but you could attached any type blade, depending on your need. A hot knife is good for shaping Styrofoam, but I have found one of the best uses for a hot knife is to cut through hardened epoxy. If you need to remove a firewall or landing gear mounting block, this is the way to go. It will slice through that gob of epoxy like... well... a hot knife through butter.
In 2013, flying a radio-controlled airplane model with a 22" wingspan is no major accomplishment. In 1963 it was a phenomenon. Today's micro-size servos and receivers and powerful brushless motors and Li-Ion batteries. Yesterday's models used relays, electronic components with wires sticking out of them, interconnecting wires, metal frames, heavy alkaline batteries, and in the case of single-channel models like the Lil' Roughneck, a rubber band to power the escapement. Oh, and you had to build the model yourself. It was all very crude by today's standards. Pioneers like author Aubrey Kochman helped pave the way for what we enjoy now with ready-to-fly convenience and at a much cheaper price in inflated dollars (or rupees).
The Great Jack Knight
Terrible Night in the Sky
When learning to fly, students are introduced to a consequence of Einstein's General Relatively theory - albeit not called by that name. According to Albert, there is no way to experimentally determine the difference between a force caused by positional acceleration and a force caused by gravity. That is, if you did not know better, you could not tell whether the downward force on your body (weight) was due to the 32.2 ft/sec2 acceleration of gravity or whether you were standing in a rocket ship that was accelerating through space at a rate of 32.2 ft/sec2. The phenomenon is responsible for many pilots crashing their airplanes under low or zero visibility condition when, believing they are right-side-up and flying straight and level, they are actually in a coordinated turn or even flying inverted in an arc that generates the same acceleration as gravity. Early fliers, like pioneer airmail pilot Jack Knight had to contend with such dangers...
Top Flite Advertisement in
the December 1954 Air Trails
A number of things make this Top Flite advertisement from the December 1954 edition of Air Trails surprising. First, did you even know that Top Flite used to make anything other than large radio controlled model airplanes? Second, did you know that the great Carl Goldberg was a model designer for Top Flite before he started his own model airplane company? Third, did you know Top Flite used to make small molded balsa models for Jetex engines? This ad offered an F-86 Sabre Jet and a Douglas Skyrocket for $1 each.
Russian Modelers Seek
Service in Salt Mines!
This short tongue-in-cheek article about the use of salt mines in Communist countries like Romania for indoor free flight contests was written in 1963, a time when the Cold War was in full swing, your neighbor might have built a nuclear shelter in his back yard, and kids practiced getting under their desks in the event of a wave of incoming ICMBs tipped with MIRVs. In fact, the FAI world championships have been held in Romanian salt mines a few times, and they will return there in 2014.
Mr. 'G' Goes to Ecuador
to Visit a Balsa Operation
Midwest Products has been selling high quality balsa to modelers for a very long time - since 1952 according to their website. Theirs and Sig's are the two names that come to mind when I think of balsa, since they dominated the market back in the 1960s and 1970s when I first started building airplane models. Balsa USA and the many house brands sold by hobby distributors are now available, but Midwest and Sig are still to balsa what Coke and Pepsi are to soft drinks, at least to many my age (54) and older. This story from the July 1970 edition of American Aircraft Modeler recounts an expedition by Mr. Frank Garcher, of Midwest, to the Balsa Ecuador Lumber Corporation, in Guayaquil, Ecuador. A search of Balsa Ecuador Lumber did not turn up any results, but I did find a modern-day mill called Lumber Industries, in Samborondon, Ecuador, in case you want to see an example of how your balsa is processed today.
Progress has been slowed a bit with other priorities getting in the way, but the Lorraine grandmother clock (Klockit plans) building phase is nearly at an end. The clockworks has been test-fitted and adjusted to run properly. Boy, was it nice after nearly three years to see the pendulum swinging and hear the chimes ringing out! Everything was removed for safe keeping while the final touches are put on. Glass retainer strips are on the doors and waist sides, hinges have been hung, the finial mounted on the crown, cloth grille frames screwed in place, and then removed until finishing. I like to make sure all screw holes have been tapped ahead of time to mitigate the risk of an error after the finish is on. All that remains to be done prior to starting the finishing process is cut and glue on the concave molding on the base and waist (top and bottom), then do a final sanding. The next pictures will probably be after the stain is applied.
Gyrenes Pocket Copter
This Hiller Helicopters XROE-1 "Rotor-cycle" looks a lot like the Bensen Gyrocopters that seemed to be in every magazine in the 1960s and 1970s, either as a feature story or in the advertisements in the back. A couple James Bond movies even featured them as high-tech, futuristic flying machines. The U.S. military experimented for a while with the personal gyrocopter concept for surveillance and search and rescue operations, but it never really went anywhere. Remote-controlled drones do a lot of that work these days. Significant improvements have been made in airworthiness over the years and now there are many personal gyrocopters in use around the world - both homebuilt and commercially built.
Control Line Capers
Here is another article from the 1960s where its author laments waning interest in FAI (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale) competition. Most seem to have concluded that the problem was due to a perception that the FAI's had adopted overly bureaucratic regulations. They wanted to simply end participation. Others wanted to add an FAI "tax" to AMA membership to support team participation in order to increase participation. Isn't the latter concept the same bass-ackwards approach that politicians have in the past used - and lots still do - that fails every time it's tried?
Aeronca C-3 on Floats
Article & 3-View
This short article and 3-view drawing by James Trigg appeared in the February 1962 edition of American Modeler. With a 36' wingspan and a mere 40 hp for an engine, the Aeronca C-3 performed more like a powered glider than a power plane. Its wing loading of 6.15 lb/sq.ft. yielded it a climb rate of 450'/min and a glide ratio of 10:1. Only 400 were built before new FAA airworthiness standards caused production to halt.
Model Boat for the 27 mc.
It was a lot of work to put together a radio control model of any sort in 1953, but the complexity of this paddlewheel model boat seems excessive. It claims, through careful consideration and design, to have overcome to main two obstacles of entering the remote control model realm - a need to possess expert modeling skills and a need to possess an amateur radio operator license. Obstacle one is (ostensibly) overcome through simple boat and electronics construction, and obstacle two is overcome through use of a radio that operates in the unlicensed Citizens band. I'll give them the second, but at least to today's ARF and RTF hobbyist population, the first is still way beyond the ability of most enthusiasts. You're probably tired of hearing it if you read my notes often, but the fundamental lack in hands-on craftsmen in the country (all countries) is pretty pathetic. Evidently such abilities aren't required for society to progress... but that depends on your definition of progress.
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Dancer C/L Model
For the Tenderfoot
Website visitor Alan M. wrote to request that I scan this Dancer article from the February 1971 edition of American Aircraft modeler. The Dancer is a beginner's level control line trainer model for 1/2A power. It was designed and built by AMA Junior level modeler Dennis Haimerl. A unique feature of the Dancer is use of a leading edge slot to enhance lift and stall characteristics of the flat airfoil of the wing.
"Flying Platform" Gets
A lot of wild and zany ideas for flying machines have been tried over the years. Most, if not all, of them could probably be coaxed into flying with modern computer-controlled stabilization and navigations systems that use fast-reacting powerplants, sensitive accelerometers and position sensors. For anything other than stable platforms, human pilots just could not provide control - at least on an extended basis and under adverse weather conditions. This "flying platform" by Hiller Helicopters is one such example.
No Strings Attached
Well-known modeling editor Bill Winters waxes wonderingly about whether the "theoretician" modelers who use "wind tunnels, slide rules, [and] adding machines" might really be gaining an edge over the "rule-of-thumbers" who pioneered the basic precepts of various model aircraft design and operation through trial-and-error processes. By removing environmental variables like wind, thermals, and terrain, he considers how recent gains in indoor events have rewarded renowned "thinker" type modelers with great advanced in record performances.
February 1962 Sketchbook
Model Building Tips
This Sketchbook was scanned from the February 1962 American Modeler, page 40. Most building tips are timeless. Even in this era of ready-to-fly (RTF), almost-ready-to-fly (ARF), bind-and-fly (BAF), etc., there are still many modelers who build their own aircraft. Nearly all top tier competition fliers build their own models, as do aficionados of vintage (aka old-timer) models.
How to Build George Harris'
Magnificent R/C Spitfire
Website visitor Wells S. just wrote asking for another article to be posted - this time it is a very nice scale radio controlled Spitfire IX. As was common in the era (1962), construction is very robust and therefore heavy (10 pounds with a 64" wingspan). A Super Tigre .56 powered the model in the article, and an Orbit radio with Bonner servos were used. My favorite line in the article is, "In flight the Spitfire is very stable but snaps through maneuvers and will tie knots in itself if you can operate transmitter switches fast enough." We've come a long way, baby.
West Coast AMA Nationals
Take a look at the variety of models at the 1963 West Coast AMA Nationals and you will notice that the overall types and outlines have not really changed all that significantly for the different categories. Stunt, speed, scale, free flight, and other models, if the pictures were in color, would look like what you might see at the 2013 Nats in Muncie this years (OK, the helicopters were more crude). Only a discerning eye could spot the true vintage from the photos. Up close, there is undoubtedly a lesser degree of precision and detail on the models since competition always moves the bar higher over time. If anything betrays the era, it is the haircuts and less slovenly attire of the participants...