Kirt Blattenberger, Webmaster - Airplanes and Rockets
Kirt Blattenberger
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(Seize the Day!)

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

Aerospace Headline News

- Archives -

Army Mulls Hybrid Electric for Next Gen Drones

Unusual Alloy Brings Magnesium-Ion Batteries Closer

Georgia Tech Student Designs Fuel-Cell Plane

India Performs Successful Space Shuttle Test Launch

Airbus Awarded Patent for 293 mph 'Hypercopter'

British Drone-Freezing Ray Gets U.S. Airports Trial

Thunderbirds, Blue Angels Have Accidents on Same Day

Low-Boom Supersonic Jet in Development

Solar Aircraft Test Flight Paves Way for Internet Drones

Solar Aircraft Test Flight Paves Way for Internet Drones - Airplanes and Rockets"Luminati Aerospace has conducted a public test flight of its prototype solar aircraft, the VO-Substrata, that represents a stepping stone toward drones that supply internet access. While this early design has a pilot, Luminati eventually wants to make pilotless vehicles that fly as high as 60,000 feet and never need to land. If all goes well, manufacturing starts soon as the end of 2016 ..."

In Aircraft Modelers' Friendly Skies, Drones Bring Turbulence

In Aircraft Modelers' Friendly Skies, Drones Bring Turbulence  - Airplanes and RocketsNational Public Radio (NPR) recently did a feature titled "In Aircraft Modelers' Friendly Skies, Drones Bring Turbulence," in which correspondent Alina Selyukh reported on how the relatively sudden and very overwhelming appearance of radio controlled drones (multi-rotor aircraft, actually), have made life for traditional fixed wing and helicopter modelers a living heck. Whereas a modicum of skill is required to pilot the aforementioned aircraft, even the tiniest of drones are equipped with stabilization technology that makes them so simple to fly that a caveman could do it. Many Neanderthals throughout the world have proven that claim true ....

NASA Unveils Plans for Electric-Powered Plane

NASA Unveils Plans for Electric-Powered Plane - Airplanes and Rockets"A new experimental airplane being built by NASA could help push electric-powered aviation from a technical curiosity and pipe dream into something that might become commercially viable for small aircraft. At a conference on Friday of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in Washington, the NASA administrator, announced plans for an all-electric airplane designated as X-57, part of the agency’s efforts to make aviation more efficient ...

Electromotive Power Plants

Electromotive Power Plants, March 1974 American Aircraft Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsThe old saying about the pioneers taking the arrows might be a little frowned upon in today's overly sensitive society, but it is apt when considering the trials and tribulations endured by early adapters of electric powered flight. Compared with today's extremely high energy density lithium polymer (LiPo) battery packs, the old nickel cadmium (NiCad) batteries were impotent, heavy, and bulky. Nevertheless, guys like Kenichi Mabuchi forged new frontiers (continuing with the pioneer theme) that got people thinking about the benefits of powering models with silent motors and batteries ... 

Telasco RMA Aircraft Accessories Ad

Telasco RMA Aircraft Accessories Ad, June 1960 Aero Modeller - Airplanes and RocketsI've been posting some advertisements from vintage Aero Modeller for the sake of British model aircraft and boat enthusiasts who appreciate a reflection back to a time when a stroll through London to visit a hobby shop didn't make you think you had been transported through a Einstein-Rosen space-time bridge (aka wormhole) to Saudi Arabia. I read in the news that the town is quite the different experience these days, but I digress. A couple weeks ago, I posted a listing of some of those area hobby shops that you might remember. More will follow ... 

Portable Two-Way Radio Phone

Portable Two-Way Radio Phone, March 1955 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsThis 1955-era photo of the "Portaphone" might be considered one of the world's first commercially available portable phones. It cannot be considered to be a cellphone in that there were no "cells" of transceiver stations capable of servicing sets moving between cell coverage boundaries. Early portable - or mobile - phones were serviced by a central tower that performed a relay service between the RF device (handset) and the local telephone service. The earliest of those systems, prior to automation, relied on a human operator to patch through calls just like ...

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Robot Helicopter

Robot Helicopter, November 1956 Popular Electronics - Airplanes and RocketsThis angled, twin rotor, no-tail-rotor (NOTAR) configuration for a remotely controlled helicopter was pioneered by Kaman Aircraft Corporation in the 1950s, and is still a unique part of their product lineup today. Per their website, "The Unmanned Aerial Truck (UAT) continues a Kaman tradition of pioneering unmanned helicopters. In 1957, Charles Kaman, founder of Kaman Corporation, created the first pilotless aircraft." The embedded video is a 1957 edition of the "You Asked for It" television show, where host ...

12th Nordic Champs

"12th Nordic Champs", June 1960 Aero Modeller - Airplanes and RocketsWakefield competition requires some of the highest skill level in all of model-dom with regards to aircraft structure and covering details, engine and fuel system tuning, dethermalizer setup, trim for uncontrolled flight during launch, transition, glide, and dethermalized phases. That. of course, is not to minimize the skill sets required for other realms of model aircraft, but it seems to me Wakefield requires expertise in all disciplines in order to be a consistent winner. The 12th Nordic Championships we held in winter on Lake Vasijarvi at Tampere, Finland - above the Arctic Circle, at 61.5°N. This is a robust bunch ...

The Great Pickett Slide Rule Apollo Conundrum

The Great Pickett Slide Rule Apollo Conundrum - RF CafeLong after shirt pocket sized electronic calculators and glass cockpits became the norm for both professional and recreational aviators, Colonel J. Michael Gibson, a career pilot and navigator with the Canadian Civil Aeronautics Search and Rescue (now retired) carried a Pickett N600-ES slide rule in his flight jacket. Its diminutive size (only 5" long), sharply marked scales, and sturdy construction made it a favorite for on-the-go users. A special purpose Pickett N700-T USAF Aerial Photo slide rule lived in his flight suit sleeve pocket. Colonel Gibson is passing along his appreciation for the art of slide rule usage to his granddaughter. She routinely uses her Pickett 1010 model ...

Rocket Trails: Rockets, Guided Missiles, Space Ships

Rocket Trails, March 1955 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsBefore the Vernon Estes began selling solid propellant model rocket engines in 1958 - three years after this article appeared in Air Trails magazine - accidents were commonplace amongst backyard rocketeers. G. Harry Stine addressed the issue in many of his early "Rocket Trails" columns. I remember reading about blown off fingertips and blinded eyes in the technical publications by Estes. The National Association of Rocketry (NAR) has a report titled, "Forty Years of Model Rocketry - A Safety Report," written by Stein in 1997 ...

Larry Page is Secretly Building Flying Cars

Larry Page is Secretly Building Flying Cars - Airplanes and Rockets"Google may have a lot of projects on the go at the moment - but none quite like this one. The company's co-founder, Larry Page appears to be secretly investing in flying cars. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Page has personally provided £70 million ($100 million) to two startups developing the technology. He has reportedly been funding Zee.Aero and Kitty Hawk, two rival companies based in California's Silicon Valley. Zee.Aero was set ...

Twin Free Flight .020 Helicopters

Twin .020 Helicopters, March 1961 American Modeler Magazine - Airplanes and RocketsFlying model helicopter development understandably took a lot longer than airplanes because of the complex aerodynamic and mechanical issues that needed to be conquered for successful operation. A few direct drive rotor systems appeared early on, with the engine mounted in the fuselage, but a counter-torque force needed to be dealt with as the fuselage wanted to rotate in the opposite direction as the rotors. Ken Norris' implementation solved that problem by mounting a pair of engines on a boom that was part of the rotor head assembly. Doing so meant the only torque transferred to the fuselage was due to any friction ...

The Wright Brothers National Memorial

The Wright Brothers National Memorial - Airplanes and Rockets
It only took 57 years, but I finally visited the site of Orville and Wilbur Wright's first flights from Kill Devil Hill on the shore of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina - now commemorated by the Wright Brothers National Memorial. I must admit that the place looked nothing like I expected based on photographs made at the turn of the last century. Wilbur's words to his father, "At Kitty Hawk, which is on the narrow bar separating the Sound from the Ocean, there are neither hills nor trees, so that it offers a safe place for practice," in no way describes the surroundings of 2016. The last time I was as surprised to witness such a startling difference between 'then' and 'now' settings was when getting off the tour bus in front of The Alamo, in San Antonio, Texas, and not recognizing it. That's not to say I was disappointed; more than a century of progress has changed most landscapes the world around. Barren sand dunes have been replaced with a forest of trees and grassy knolls, and the coastline that used to provide those steady winds ... 

Some of My Stuff Is for Sale

Modeling items for sale - Airplanes and RocketsDue to a change in life status, I want to sell many items from my modest collection of aeromodeling things I had as a youngster. All are in new or like-new condition and are priced very fairly (compare with e-bay auctions). If you are planning to purchase any of these items anyway, please consider buying them from me to help support the Airplanes and Rockets website. A complete list is here. A few examples are: TopFlite C/L P-40 Warhawk, Monogram Cyclone 9 Radial Engine, AAMCo S-Ray, Sig C/L Super Chipmunk, R/C Aquila Sailplane, Cox C/L Fokker Dr.I Triplane, DuBro R/C TriStar Helicopter, Cox F2G-1 Corsair, Jetco Sabre Stunt, Cox PT-19 Trainer. Thank you for your help.

ESA's 4,000 mph Hypersonic Plane Does London-to-Sydney in Hours

ESA's 4,000 mph Hypersonic Plane Does London-to-Sydney in Hours - Airplanes and Rockets"The European Space Agency has invested $11 million toward the development of the Sabre engine that could one day allow aircraft to fly anywhere in the world in just four hours. Oxfordshire-based Reaction Engines has been developing a turbine that combines both jet and rocket technologies to achieve rates five times the speed of sound. According to the firm, the new agreement with the ESA and the UK Space Agency, along with the existing partnership with BAE Systems, means that the first ground demonstrator engine could be ready for testing by 2020 ..."

Hang Glider Aims to Break Long-Distance Flight Record

Hang Glider Aims to Break Long-Distance Flight Record - Airplanes and Rockets"Hang glider aims to break long-distance flight record | Fox News A daring hang glider known for his extreme stunts and record-setting flights will soon attempt to set another record for the longest open-distance flight. On or soon after Monday (June 20), Jonny Durand will attempt to glide from Zapata, in southern Texas, to Lorenzo, in northern Texas, a distance of about 475 miles. Aiding him on his journey — on (or around) the summer solstice, the longest ..."

Apollo 11 Guidance Computer Source Code on GitHub

Apollo 11 Guidance Computer Source Code on GitHub - RF CafeWith the 47th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing coming up on July 20, a number of sources have written about NASA having released the Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) source code into the public domain. Chris Wiltz, at Design News, included this photo of Margaret Hamilton of MIT's Draper Labs standing with her team's code printout. Women engineers take note - that was in 1969!

NASA Apollo 11: Owners' Workshop Manual - RF CafeI highly recommend the NASA Apollo 11: Owners' Workshop Manual, published by Haynes. It has an incredible amount of 'insider' info about the development of both hardware and software.

Brodak's Hobby Shop

Brodak's Hoby Shop, Carmichaels, Pennsylvania - Airplanes and Rockets
Local hobby shops that carry a wide variety of model airplane kits, building supplies, and flying gear are getting more and more rare all the time, due primarily to online outlets that offer the products for lower prices. Some of that competitive edge was dulled when states began requiring companies to collect sales tax from everyone, regardless of residency. Even so, volume pricing from manufacturers has made running a LHS minimally profitable for most proprietors still in the business. Brodak, unarguably the largest seller of control line flying supplies, has the advantage of being its own manufacturer for most of its products. Because of that, they are able to sell at the lowest prices possible for their proprietary ...

Modelers Sketch-book

Modelers Sketch-book, March 1956 Young Men • Hobbies • Aviation • Careers - Airplanes and RocketsHere are another 7 model building tips from readers of the 1950s vintage Young Men magazine. Many of the types of items presented in these Modelers Sketch-book pages come prefabricated and at a relatively low price these days. However, there are some thing which if you want, you will need the make them yourself. This particular installment includes a tip for how to hold small parts while painting them, as well as how to make a jig for bending music wire landing gear ...

Brodak's 20th Annual Fly-In, June 14, 2016

Brodak's 20th Annual Fly-In, June 14, 2016 - Airplanes and Rockets

Brodak's 20th annual control line fly-in was held at its customary location in Carmichaels, Pennsylvania, from June 13 through 18, 2016. This was to be the final time for the fly-in due to health issues by owner and founder John Brodak, but thankfully recovery has been such that he has decided to continue beyond this year. That is news everyone involved was glad to hear. Although I have lived in Erie, Pennsylvania, since 2008, this is the first year for my attendance (spectator only). In fact, it was because this was originally slated as the last Brodak Fly-In that I made plans early in the year to be there. Melanie has been trying to get me to take the time and visit, but I always had an excuse for why I was too busy. We drove the 180 miles southward on Tuesday, June 14, which was the second day of the event. It was an absolutely ...