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

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Drone Debate to Pose 6 Basic Questions

Astronomers Seek Widest View Ever of Universe with New Telescope

High-Tech Airships Could Be NASA's Next Challenge

Air Force Facing Critical Shortage of Drone Pilots

Rapere Drone-Killing Drone

CES 2015: Why the Future of Drones is up in the Air

Rocket Landing at Sea 'Close, But No Cigar'

Spielberg, Hanks Team up for 8 Air Force Tales

Could Glitter Help Solve NASA's Giant Telescope Problem?

NASA's Kepler Spacecraft Finds First Alien Planet of New Mission

FAA Grants Permits for Agriculture, Real Estate Drones

Airplanes Finally Go Hybrid-Electric

Aircraft Laser Weapon Defenses

Researchers Demo Cyber Defenses for Drones

Researchers Demo Cyber Defenses for Drones

Can Astronomy Explain the Biblical Star of Bethlehem?

Largest Telescope the World Has Ever Seen Gets Construction Go-Ahead

Photographer Injured by TGI Friday's Mistletoe 'Copter

Helicopter Drone Makes First Flight from Navy Destroyer

Army Lab Asks Help Building Wing-Flapping Robot Fly

'Smart Dust' Technology Could Reshape Space Telescopes

Can Birds Be Trained to Bring Down Drones?

UK Designed Nano Drone to Fly in CES

FAA: Near-Collisions Between Drones, Airliners Surge

200 MPH Volkswagen"
Witt's Vee

200 MPH Volkswagon? Witt's Vee (February 1974 American Aircraft Modeler) - Airplanes and RocketsSteve Wittman, aka 'The Grand Old Man of Air Racing,' was a prolific airplane designer, builder, and pilot. His Wittman Tailwind homebuilt airplane was very popular and proved to be fast and efficient for its size and power. The 'Formula Vee' racer, motivated by a highly modified Volkswagen engine, easily broke the 170 mph speed benchmark. Making outside-the-box tradeoffs like suffering the drag of wing bracing wires for a lighter and thinner airfoil are what made Wittman a crafty - and winning - designer. A scale model of the Wittman Vee might benefit from a slightly thicker airfoil and larger tail surfaces unless you want to have to aggressively fly the craft

Supersonic Killers

Supersonic Killers, July 1951 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsAlready in 1951, a mere half decade after Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier in his Bell X-1, the world was gearing up for the new reality of supersonic warfare. Air superiority as a significant tactical advantage on the battlefield was well-established during World War II, itself only half a decade in the past at the time this article in a 1951 edition of Air Trails. The learning curve was steep but the progress fast on how to build and fly aircraft operating beyond Mach 1. Crazy phenomena like aileron control reversal came as a surprise to engineers and pilots on the bleeding edge of that technology, and were major issues that need to be dealt with and mitigate. Here is a wee bit of early history on

How the V-2 Rocket
Was Wirelessly Controlled

How the V-2 Rocket Is Wirelessly Controlled, April 1945 Radio News - RF CafeHere I go again saying how Germany missed an opportunity - twice - to be the world's technical superpower by starting wars that numerically proved it could never win. Scientists and engineers of Deutschland designed and implemented what would be the first wirelessly guided missile for correcting the flight path of the V-2 rocket (the 'V' stood for Vergeltungswaffe, or vengeance weapon). This article from a 1945 edition of Radio News describes how a radio 'cone' was formed by a ground-based transmitter array that caused an airborne guidance system to keep the rocket on course during the boost phase of its flight. Embarrassingly, I don't recall

Sopwith Pup Article & Plans

Sopwith Pup Article & Plans from the June 1971 American Aircraft Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsA modern miniature radio control system rather than a galloping ghost setup and a brushless motor rather than a glow fuel engine would be a great combination for this scale Sopwith Pup from the June 1971 edition of American aircraft Modeler. Joe Hankes' 33" wingspan version of this World War I biplane is in the manner of the late 1960s very solidly constructed in order to withstand the grueling pounding of internal combustion engine powerplants. With a little judicious material substitution the airframe weight could be whittled down considerably

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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

Flying the Control Line
Carrier Event

Flying the Carrier Event, July 1951 Air Trails - Airplanes and Rockets

Control line carrier is a sport that you might think shouldn't be to hard to master, that is until you watch someone trying to land a model, hanging on the prop, on the carrier deck. There are plenty of YouTube videos of people doing just that; check a few out to see what I mean. Although I have never attempted it myself, it is easy to believe that trying to control the model at near zero forward airspeed - maybe even backwards in a stiff headwind - with no centrifugal force to keep the lines tight and the model waving in the gusts is not an easy job. Add to that the coordination needed to establish the hovering attitude in the first place, with a combination of feeding in a high throttle setting while pulling the nose up to about a 60-degree angle. Then of course there is the non-trivial task of snagging an arrestor

Ace Whizad Vintage
1/2A R/C Model

Ace Whizard by Steve Swinamer - Airplanes and RocketsCanadian website visitor Steve S. is an avid builder and flier of vintage model airplane designs that are powered by Cox .020 and .049 engines. He has in the past submitted building and finished photos of his Quarter Pint, So-Long, and Ace Pacer models. As is evident by the many photos below and with his other models, the level of craftsmanship is quite high and so they serve as great examples to anyone in search of tips on how to properly build small R/C models. Said Steve in his e-mail, "While not a feature in AAM, (although Ace ran lots of ads for the kits from 1974 on) I recently scratch built an Ace Whizard from plans and using the foam wings that Ace supplied with the kits (wing panels still available). They were rudder only but I added elevator as well and power with a Cox Black Widow .049. It's ready to fly, the engine is  

Sketchbook - Model Building Tips

Sketchbook - Model Building Tips, September 1954 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsThese building and finishing tips might be 60 years old, but every one of them is still useful and applicable to today's model aircraft builder. There are still a lot of guys who do the Silkspan and or tissue and dope covering method that are looking for advice since there are rarely others around anymore who are familiar with the techniques. The idea of pre-coloring trim before applying tissue is something I'd like to try sometime ... if I can remember to do it. 

Great Lakes Trainer
Article & 3-View

Great Lakes Trainer 3-View & Article (September 1970 American Aircraft Modeler) - Airplanes and RocketsThe Great Lakes Trainer has been kitted by many manufacturers over the years. Its proportions, designed to make it stable and easy to fly in its full-size format makes it ideal for free flight, control line, or radio control. Its classic lines and a unique engine and cowling arrangement makes the Great Lakes Trainer a stand-out in any lineup of biplanes. This article is a historical insight into the airplane and offers a detailed 3-view that will serve the scale modeler who needs accurate dimensional and cross-sectional references for judges to use in scoring fidelity.

Bristol Monoplane Scout

Bristol Monoplane Scout Article & Plans, June 1960 Aero Modeller - Airplanes and RocketsAlthough originally designed and built for free flight, this fairly large scale mode of the Bristol Scout monoplane could easily be adapted for control line or radio control flying. With a wingspan of 46 inches and a robust airframe, it can withstand the rigors of aerobatic flight. Replacing the glow fuel engine with a modern brushless motor and LiPo batteries helps keep the vibration and therefore wear and tear to a minimum, and also avoids getting messy fuel all over your nice airplane. Since these plans are no longer available, you can click the one presented below to get the full resolution version. It was only

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

Amelia Earhart's Short-Wave
Radio Never Failed

Amelia Earhart's Short-Wave Radio Never Failed, April 1935 Short Wave Craft - Airplanes and RocketsPlenty of intrigue still surrounds the July 2, 1937, disappearance of Amelia Earhart in the South Pacific on her way to completing an around-the-world flight. This article appeared two years prior to that fateful flight proclaiming the soundness of her onboard radio. Back in the day, shortwave radio installations in aircraft required long wires trailing behind, particularly for long distance requirements like flying from the U.S. mainland to Hawaii. Those wires were a constant source of trouble due to destructive mechanical oscillations while waving in the airstream, airframe damage due to striking during the haul in/out procedure, and breakage. According to an article that appeared in the January 2015 edition of Smithsonian magazine, it is suspected  

Sophisticated Drones: Models
with a Mind of Their Own

Sophisticated Drones: Models with a Mind of Their Own (June 1959 American Modeler) - Airplanes and RocketsMost people today, I dare say, do not think of a 'drone' as being anything like the ones presented in this article. In fact, I doubt they even think of the military versions (Reaper, Predator, Global Hawk, et al) that a decade ago were for taking out Taliban leaders as they rode in their U.S.-made, air-conditioned Humvees across the desert lands of Afghanistan. Nowadays if you mention a drone, most likely the layman will conjure up visions of a tiny quadcopter with electric motors being piloted by some overweight guy donning baggy pants and a backwards-worn baseball cap. They remember headlines of neighbors spying on neighbors with camera-equipped R/C vehicles, commercial aircraft being diverted during landing

Airtronics Aquila Sailplane
Build from Plans Underway

Airtronics Aquila Sailplane Build from Plans Underway - Airplanes and RocketsI've been wanting to build another Aquila sailplane for a long time, but the cost of buying one of the vintage kits to do so was off-putting, aside from not really wanting to use up one of the few remaining collector's items still remaining. So, I took my plans to Staples and had a 105% scale version made (~105"). My longest wingspan to date is the 99" of the Aquila and the Windfree, so this seemed like a good time to break my record. The Aquila had a fair amount of special-purpose hardware in the kit that required building by alternate means. Some of the details of the build are documented here, in case anyone else wants to have a go at it

Enterprise-E Project
by Dave Nyce

Enterprise-E Control Line Stunt Model by Dave Nyce - Airplanes and RocketsDave Nyce, of North Carolina, sent me these photos of his Enterprise-E project. I really like how he integrated the top portion of the motor cowl into the fuselage top hatch to facilitate servicing the motor if necessary. Unlike with a nitro engine that typically mounts with bolts perpendicular to the thrust line so access from the fuselage side is possible, with electric motors the mounting Enterprise-E (covered) by Dave Nyce - Airplanes and Rocketsbolts are accessed from the front. Enclosing the motor with a cowl as shown on the plans would make bolt access difficult at best and impossible at worst. Dave plans to use Monokote ion the wings and paint elsewhere. Based on the framework quality, the final product is bound to be outstanding.

Flying Wing Design Concepts

Flying Wings Design Concepts, July 1951 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsFlying wings have always been a popular design subject. The closest most of us have ever come to owning a flying wing is a combat type control line or radio control model. Flying wings are identified by a lack of separate, defined fuselage. Stability issues make flying wings a challenge, and is why they are not seen as often at the field. That goes equally for both model airplanes and full-size airplanes. In 1951, Air Trails magazine published this article on the topic of flying wings in order to help spawn an interest amongst modelers. It contains a lot of useful information that is still applicable for anyone who would like to try his hand at a flying wing. If it is possible to build a flying, controllable model of Snoopy sitting atop his dog

For the Tenderfoot: Tailup
Free Flight Canard

Tailup Free Flight Canard, May 1971 American Aircraft Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsCanards, or tail-first airplanes, were popular back in the 1970s. That was the era of the VariEze and the Long-EZ homebuilt fiberglass and foam airplanes from Burt Rutan, which fostered great interest in the modeling community. Many of the world's jet fighters were adopting the canard configuration as well. Hiram Maxim, inventor of the Maxim machine gun and father of the American Radio Relay League's (ARRL) founder Hiram Percy Maxim, experimented with a canard aircraft design in the late 1890s. Much aerodynamic information has been learned about the canard over the last century and the concept is no longer a matter of great

The DC-3: The Plane That
Changed The World

The DC-3: The Plane That Changed The World - Airplanes and RocketsHands down, the Douglas DC-3, and its militarized version, the C-47 Skytrain (aka 'Gooneybird') has always been my favorite twin-engined tail dragger. It, as the title of this documentary video claims, changed the world of commercial aviation by "teaching the public to fly." It was an utter success from the day of it inaugural flight in 1935. Interestingly, all stewardesses at the time were required to have nursing training as evidence of compassion and discipline. This 50-minute video does a nice job of telling the story of the DC-3.

Clough's Concluding Comments
Concerning 'Copters

Clough's Concluding Comments Concerning 'Copters, November 1953 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsWe modelers really have an easy time of it these days if there is a much stronger desire to fly than to build, or if there is an innate inability to build well. Levels of engineering and prefabrication have reached the point that even with vehicles as complex and inherently unstable as helicopters and multirotor platforms, a model pilot wannabe can purchase just about any flying platform in a ready-to-fly configuration. Not many people back in the era when Roy Clough wrote this article even dreamed that for a couple hundred bucks it would be possible to buy a helicopter that would be able fly in a hands-off manner, but would even have an onboard computer that would bring the craft

Wright Brothers Crossword

Wright Brothers Crossword Puzzle for December 14, 2014 - Airplanes and Rockets111 years ago this week (December 17, 1903), Orville and Wilbur Wright made their historic first flight whereby a human and aircraft took off and flew under its own power. The Wright Flyer, piloted by Orville, took off from rails on a dune at Kill Devil Hills, NC, and Wright Flyer crossword - Airplanes and Rocketsremained airborne for 120 feet before landing on the beach below. The location was chosen for the orographic lift generated by the ocean winds blowing up the sandy slopes. This week's crossword commemorates the event by incorporating many relevant terms and clues. Enjoy!

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