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

Drones - Put R/C into War Games

Drones - Put R/C into War Games, April 1956 Popular Electronics - RF CafeThe term 'drone' these days for most invokes the image of a little plastic spider-looking thing with propellers mounted at the ends of the arms - usually with a toothless bumpkin at the controls. Those same people often think drones are relatively new devices. People with a just a little more information automatically classify all radio control (R/C) models, be they traditional fixed-wing aircraft or helicopters, as drones. Pilots of the aforementioned models are even likely, per observers, to have all their teeth and bathe regularly. I happen to be one of the latter type R/C modelers and while I no longer possess all 32 teeth I had at birth, I do bathe regularly. Drones have been around since World War I where they were used for target practice by ground-based mark ...

NASA Tests the 'Ferrari of Rocket
Engines' for Mission to Mars

NASA Tests the 'Ferrari of Rocket Engines' for Mission to Mars - RF Cafe"NASA tests the 'Ferrari of rocket engines' for mission to Mars - CNET If we're going to get humans to Mars, we're going to need a bigger rocket with a much more powerful engine. This is the RS-25, the engine designed for NASA's Space Launch System rocket, intended to launch the Orion spacecraft and, eventually, see humanity on its way to Mars: the ..."

Lightweight Proportional Servo

Lightweight Proportional Servo - Airplanes and RocketsGlass-filled nylon and other types of high strength plastic for gears and structural components were things of the future in 1962 - about a decade or so at least. Likewise for high torque, miniature motors that used powerful rare earth magnets - at least at a price affordable to hobbyists. Not only were early servos big and heavy, but they drew a lot of current from the airborne battery, were slow, and were driven by analog proportional circuits (i.e., low positional precision). Servos available today are modern marvels of materials, mechanical, and electrical engineering. While it was not too hard to imagine in the 1950s and 1960s how a servo might be improved over the (then) state of the art, it is hard to imagine how the ones we have today could be significantly better, at least in ...

54-Propeller 'Swarm' Flying Machine

54-Propeller 'Swarm' Flying Machine - Airplanes and Rockets"The Swarm man carrying multi-rotor airborne flight testing montage. 54 counter-rotation propellers, six grouped control channels with KK2.15 stabilization. Take off weight 148kg, max lift, approx. 164 kg. Endurance10 minutes. Power approx. 22 kW ..."

Whisper Hand-Launched Glider
Article & Plans

"Whisper" Hand-Launched Glider - Article and Plans, February 1941 Flying Aces - Airplanes and Rockets (and Telescopes, Cars, Helicopters, Boats)I'm amazed at how popular hand-launched gliders (HLGs) are today with all the very inexpensive radio control (R/C) models available. Still, there is definitely no cheaper form of building and flying that with HLGs. As with any form of free flight, gliders teach you a lot about proper airframe configuration, weight and balance, and trimming for optimal flight path and times. With control line (C/L) and R/C flight a lot of poor trimming (or no trimming) can be compensated for with pilot control input, but with free flight everything has to be just right of performance will suffer profoundly. I don't know if there's an 'Old Time' type competition category for hand-launched gliders, but if there is, the Whisper will definitely qualify ...

The North American B-25 Bomber

North American B-25 Bomber, February 1941 Flying Aces - Airplanes and RocketsThe North American B-25 Mitchell twin-engine, medium bomber was named in honor of General William "Billy" Mitchell. Its maiden flight was made on 19 August 1940, which was only a few months before this edition of Flying Aces would have gone to press, so the editor had to make a few educated guesses as to its specifications and features, especially since back in the day getting official numbers would have been very difficult. This was breakthrough design with an all-metal airframe, tricycle landing gear, twin vertical stabilizers, and a full cantilevered wing, not to mention the tail turret ...

How the 1st Woman in Space
Nearly Never Came Back

How the 1st Woman in Space Nearly Never Came Back - Airplanes and Rockets"Fifty-two years after becoming the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova reflected on her historic trip and how she very nearly never returned. When the Soviet Union launched Vostok 6 in 1963, cosmonaut Tereshkova exclaimed, "Hey sky, take off your hat, I'm on my way!" the BBC reports. But it wasn't long before she realized something was wrong, according to the Guardian. For one, she had ..."

Logging the Motor Market

Logging the Motor Market, February 1941 Flying Aces - Airplanes and RocketsComparing today's model aircraft engine horsepower per cubic inch of displacement or horsepower per ounce of weight is like comparing the engine on the Wright Flyer to a modern Lycoming. These ignition type engines were not necessarily hard to start, but adjusting the timing and the needle valve for a reliable run was a bit of an art form. Working engines can still be bought on eBay for a decent price. There are a couple videos on YouTube of people running some of the old ignition motors like the Ohlsson 23 and the Forster 29 ...

SpaceX Falcone 9 Landing Game

SpaceX Falcone 9 Landing Game by MIT - Airplanes and RocketsThe creators of the Lunar Lander game on the MIT 'Scratch' website have adapted it to feature the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket booster attempting to land on a sea-based platform. If you follow space related news, you know that recent trials for landing the booster stage vertically has been met with failure thus far. It is no trivial task, as the game demonstrates. This kind of manual flight reminds me of the skill involved by the Apollo 13 crew in steering their crippled craft back to Earth without missing it completely or burning up in the atmosphere during the descent.

Flying Sorcerer - by Lieven Merckx

Lieven Merckx's 'Flying Sorcerer' free flight model - Airplanes and RocketsWebsite visitor Lieven Merckx, of France, was kind enough to send me these photos of the 'Flying Sorcerer' that recently he built. Depron corrugated plastic was substituted for the original balsa wing. The heavier weight of Depron necessitated more counterweight ahead of the center of gravity, so Lieven made good practical use of it by adding a wheel. At the bottom of the page are a couple close-up photos and a video of the first flights. Notice how each flight improved as Lieven made trim adjustments. Free flight is the one realm of model aviation that requires a good working knowledge of aerodynamic in order to achieve a good combination of powered and unpowered flight. He noted that these flights were made 45 years after the article's appearance in the September 1970 ...

Boeing's Drone-Submarine Patent

Boeing's Drone-Submarine Patent - Airplanes and Rockets"No, it's not a new commercial aircraft design; Boeing's new patent is actually a flying drone that turns into a submarine when it comes in contact with a water body. It happened earlier this year when Boeing received an approval from the US Patent and Trademark Office for their patent application. Boeing calls it a 'rapid deployment air and water vehicle ..."

FAA Data Reveals Complex Picture
of U.S. Drone Activity

FAA Data Reveals Complex Picture of U.S. Drone Activity - Airplanes and Rockets"New AMA Analysis: FAA drone data includes military crashes, commercial operators, some people likely flying responsibly and some flying objects that aren’t even drones at all Close examination finds the number of 'near misses' appear to be in the dozens, not the hundreds, based on explicit notations in the FAA's records MUNCIE, Ind. – The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) today released a detailed analysis of the FAA's drone data. A close examination of the 764 records, which the agency publicly released on August 21, reveals a more complex picture of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) activity in the United States than initial headlines suggested ..."

The Case Against
an Independent Air Force

The Case Against an Independent Air Force, January 1941 Flying Aces - Airplanes and RocketsSince the beginning of time military commanders have been notorious for advocating for their particular branches of service regardless of what make the best sense strategically. Until the Wright brothers invented the motor-powered airplane, such epic internal battles were fought between the Army and the Navy (and Marines). Heading into World War II, many top brass associated with the flying arms of the services argued for a separate Air Force that was not under the auspices of any land-based forces. Lt. Comdr. Lincoln, a retired naval man at the time, lays out his case for why air maneuvers should remain within the command of the Navy as well as of the Air Force. We now know how that challenge eventually played out with the Navy still retaining its own air operations and the Army having ...

Notes from the Workbench

Notes from the Workbench, February 1941 Flying AcesThese modeling tips might be over 70 years old, but the content is as relevant as ever. For example, it is still good practice to store your paint and dope jars and cans upside down since doing so seals the lid/jar interface so that air cannot enter and ruin the contents. Miniature brass and aluminum washers can be made by poking a needle through the sheet and then using a paper punch to cut the outside rim. Flying Aces magazine had a batch of these handy-dandy items ...

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Flying into Focus
February 1941 Flying Aces

Flying into Focus, February 1941 Flying Aces - Airplanes and RocketsOn the eve or America's unavoidable entrance into World War II, there was already a lot of preparation happening both in the aircraft production and pilot training realms. The monthly "Flying into Focus" feature in Flying Aces magazine provided a lot of coverage not just to let people know what was going on in the aerospace field, but also to condition everyone for the eventuality. At the time, the U.S. was supplying European and even Russian allies with machinery and troop training, primarily via the Lend-Lease Act of 1941 through which Congress allocated funds for those purposes. As in this edition, the "Flying into Focus" column did dedicate a fair amount of space to ...

World's 1st Scale Model of
Solar System in Nevada Desert

World's 1st Scale Model of Solar System in Nevada Desert - Airplanes an dRocketsThis is über-cool. A bunch of guys created a true scale model of the solar system in the Black Rock desert of Nevada. They used to-scale sun and planet diameters and traced out to-scale orbital paths in the sand. Earth was a blue marble and the sun was about a meter and a half in diameter. Posts driven into the ground at orbit distances had planet models mounted atop them. The accompanying video is very well done, and the slickest part is where their cars were driven around the orbital paths at night with headlights on. I was disappointed, though, that Pluto was left out just because a bunch of pointy-headed scientists demoted it to a 'dwarf planet' ...

Secrets of Soviet Space Race
Come to London

Secrets of Soviet Space Race Come to London - Airplanes and Rockets"The space technology that saw the Soviet Union propel the first dog, man and woman into orbit has gone on show in London - most of it being exhibited outside Russia for the first time. Speaking at the opening of the exhibition at the Science Museum, which runs until March 13, the first woman in space Valentina Tereshkova recalled her affection for the spacecraft that took her into ..."

What Makes a Fighting Pilot

What Makes a Fighting Pilot, February 1941 Flying Aces - Airplanes and RocketsFlying Aces was a unique aeromodeling magazine in that it devoted roughly half the pages to modeling and half to full-scale aircraft, with a fictional action/mystery story included as well. That was typical of the time for many magazines. I have really been enjoying reading many of the non-modeling stories since they provide great insight into the mindset of the country. These editions I have now come from the pre-World War II era, so the focus is on America's preparation for entry into the Pacific, European, and African theaters of operation. Many - if not most - people these days think the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, suddenly launched us into the war, but the reality is we knew involvement was inevitable and the Military Industrial Complex ...

LauncherOne: Big Value
for Small Satellites

LauncherOne: Big Value for Small Satellites - Airplanes and Rockets"The exploration of space provides important benefits to life here on Earth. Because of their relatively low cost and quick development timelines, small satellites specifically are incredibly appealing both to established satellite users feeling the reality of fixed or declining budgets and to new entities looking to undertake their first space missions. But despite their incredible promise and impressive results to date, small satellites ..."

Anti-Drone Defense Revealed in London

Anti-Drone Defense System That Can Fight Micro-UAVs Revealed in London - Airplanes and Rockets"UK defense firm Selex ES on Tuesday unveiled an electromagnetic shield designed to defeat commercial drones. After three years of development, Selex's Falcon Shield system made its public debut during the Defence and Security Equipment International exhibition in London. The firm did not explain in great detail the proprietary technology, which was developed with military customers, but said drones can be detected, taken over and then flown to land safely away from the target being protected. Electronic warfare ...

Qualcomm Demos Mini Drone
Using Snapdragon Processor

Qualcomm Demos Mini Drone Using Snapdragon Procesor - RF  CafeFFirst public demo of Snapdragon Flight robotics dev platform in one of world's smallest 4K drones. "We believe that robotics can be brought to a whole new level by using highly integrated and optimized heterogeneous mobile compute platforms. To that end, we're proud to announce Qualcomm Snapdragon Flight, a next-generation development platform designed to help manufacturers build the future of consumer robots and drones ...

Author: Kirt Blattenberger on Google+
Author: 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 M.O. 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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