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

Aerospace Headline News

Tech Industry Headlines - RF Cafe- Archives -

Electric Aircraft in Everyday Flights to Become a Thing Soon

• U.S. Has Paid Russia $4B to Transport Astronauts to ISS (a national disgrace)

• 5 Best Online Aviation Degrees

• Porsche, Boeing Partner on Urban Air Mobility Market

• Making Jet Fuel from Seawater

• NASA, U.S. Industry Aim to Electrify Commercial Aviation

AMA Drone Report

• Honeywell Predicts Single-Pilot Commercial Airline Future

Russia to Give Cosmonauts Guns to Fend off Animals on Landing (and ETs in space)

The Demise of PAA-Load Competitions

No Strings Attached, December 1961 American Modeler Magazine - Airplanes and RocketsIn this December 1961 issue of American Modeler magazine, editor Bill Winter laments the termination of Pan American Airways' (PAA) sponsorship of the popular PAA-Load contesting event. For the previous 14 years, Pan Am underwrote expenses and created, monitored, wrote the rules for, publicized, convened contests, and awarded prizes for an aspect of model airplane building and flying meant to encourage youngsters to be involved in the design, flying and strategic planning of creating a platform which would carry large amounts of weight at low power. According the Mr. Winter, the PAA-Load event might have been too successful for its own good. As with most kinds of competitions with high participation, dedicated participants finely tuned their designing, building, and flying skills to the point where newcomers ...

Thimble Drome Cox Prop-Rod Air-Powered Car

Thimble Drome Cox Prop-Rod Air-Powered Car - Airplanes and RocketsThis Prop-Rod car was one of the earliest models produced by L.M. Cox Manufacturing. For many years the models went by the trade name of Thimble Drome, but later were know simply as Cox models. It was featured in magazine advertisements as early as 1961 when it appeared in American Modeler. The Prop-Rod came it a Babe Bee .049 engine that had an inverted cylinder. It was designed to run either on a tether stretched along a sidewalk, on a tether mounted in the center of a circle (see video below), or it could just run free. These couple photos were captured from an eBay auction a while back. The Prop-Rod was a little over 12 inches long and 6 inches wide ...

NASA X-59 QueSST Being Built at Lockheed Skunk Works

NASA X-59 QueSST - Airplanes and Rockets"In the high desert of California, where some of the most important aircraft in aviation history have been built and flown, the next airplane destined to make history continues to take shape on a legendary factory floor. That airplane is NASA's X-59 QueSST (Quiet Supersonic Technology), an experimental piloted aircraft designed to fly faster than sound without producing sonic booms. The factory is better known as the Skunk Works, a renowned Lockheed Martin division that for the past 76 years has used an out-of-the-box approach to design and manufacturing that has produced some of the nation's most advanced airplanes. Now that legacy ..."

Our Expanding Air Force

Our Expanding Air Force, from April 1951 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsOn May 8, 1945, with the capitulation of Germany, Italy, and local Axis forces, World War II ended in the European Theater. Then, on September 2, 1945, with the surrendering of Japan, World War II ended in the Pacific Theater and in its entirety. A mere five years later, on June 25, 1950, The U.S. entered into the Korean War (Conflict). China and Russia, both of which were allied with us during World War II - and both of which we saved from Japanese and German, respectively, conquering - backed North Korea in its attempt to take South Korea by force. There's appreciation for you. During that half-decade interval, military aircraft had undergone an extreme evolution from propellers and piston engines to turbines and jet engines. The U.S. Air Force underwent a major reduction in force shortly after the end of WWII ...

Cox Thimble-Drome Ad, January 1961 American Modeler

Cox Thimble-Drome Ad, January 1961 American Modeler Magazine - Airplanes and RocketsLeroy M. Cox built his glow fuel powered model empire by being not only an innovator and skilled craftsman, but also by possessing marketing savvy. This advertisement from a 1961 issue of American Modeler magazine is a prime example. Here, Cox encourages modelers to spend the money they might have received for Christmas from friends and relatives to buy some the many alluring models the company has to offer. I know that as a kid, I drooled over every Cox airplane, helicopter, boat, and car seen in magazines or in a store. A lot of the more models like the Prop Rod air-powered car, the Super Sabre F-100 jet, the Water Wizard air-powered hydroplane, and the original Super Cub 105 sell for high prices on eBay, especially if they are in new or excellent condition and come with the original boxes and accessories ...

Update: Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC)

Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) - Airplanes and RocketsThe FAA just sent out a notice of updating to its Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) system. It is the cellphone-based system that provides drone pilots with access to controlled airspace at or below 400 feet and awareness of where pilots can and cannot fly (among other things). "The FAA UAS Data Exchange is an innovative, collaborative approach between government and private industry facilitating the sharing of airspace data between the two parties. Under the FAA UAS Data Exchange umbrella, the agency will support multiple partnerships, the first of which is LAANC."

Harley-Davidson Ad from April 1951 Air Trails

Harley-Davidson Ad, from April 1951 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsWhen is the last time you saw an advertisement for Harley-Davidson motorcycles in a model airplane magazine? This ad appeared in a 1951 issue of Air Trails. Harley Davidson was established way back in 1903, so even in 1951 it was nearly half a century old. Early models looked like - and essentially were - bicycles with beefed up frames and an engine nestled between the rider's lower legs. Interestingly, the Wikipedia article notes that Harley-Davidson and Indian were the only two major motorcycle manufacturers who survived the Great Depression that began in 1929. Equally interesting - for those who remember the TV show "Happy Days" - is that quintessential 1950s biker figure Fonzi rode a British-made Triumph motorcycle, not one of the American brands ...

German eROSITA X-ray Telescope Achieves First Light

German eROSITA X-ray Telescope Achieves First Light - Airplanes and Rockets"Astronomers are elated with the first X-ray images from a German telescope on Russia's Spektr-RG astronomy mission, demonstrating the instrument's ability to observe galaxies near and far as scientists seek answers to questions about dark energy. German officials released the 'first light' images from the eROSITA instrument Tuesday. The German-built instrument is the primary payload on the Russian Spektr-RG X-ray astronomy observatory, which launched in July on a Proton rocket and headed for an observing post nearly a million miles from Earth. 'These first images from our telescope show the true beauty of the hidden universe ..."

New Hubble Constant Adds to Cosmic Mystery

New Hubble Constant Adds to Cosmic Mystery - Airplanes and Rockets"New measurements [of the Hubble Constant] of the rate of expansion of the universe add to a growing mystery: Estimates of a fundamental constant made with different methods keep giving different results. New measurements of the rate of expansion of the universe, led by astronomers at the University of California, Davis, add to a growing mystery: Estimates of a fundamental constant made with different methods keep giving different results. 'There's a lot of excitement, a lot of mystification and from my point of view it's a lot of fun,' said Chris Fassnacht, professor of physics at UC Davis and a member of the international SHARP/H0LICOW collaboration ..."

Sears "Discoverer" 6305A 60 mm Equatorial Refactor Telescope

Sears Model "Discoverer" Model 4  6305A 60 mm Equatorial Refactor Telescope - Airplanes and RocketsHere is Melanie with my vintage, circa 1967 Sears "Discoverer" Model 4  6305A 60 mm Equatorial Refractor Telescope (focal length 900 mm, f15 optics). Purchased on eBay for a very reasonable price, it was in excellent condition optically and physically. There are a few minor paint scratches that I plan to repair. After disassembling all the mechanical parts, cleaning, greasing, and reassembling them, operation is very smooth. The sun projection screen will come in handy for the April 2024 total solar eclipse, and incredibly enough my house in Erie, Pennsylvania sits almost dead center in the path of totality. The shipping / carrying case came with the telescope. It is constructed with a mahogany plywood top and bottom surface and with solid mahogany frame pieces. All the hardware was removed and either polished or painted. The wood was sanded just enough to get it smooth and remove a couple very minor scratches. I was careful to not erase any of the original already faded ink stamping on the inside bottom; it has "JAS," with the rest being Japanese. Then, three coats of semigloss polyurethane ...

Dream Chaser Structure Arrives at Factory for Outfitting

Dream Chaser Structure Arrives at Factory for Outfitting - Airplanes and Rockets"The composite structure of Sierra Nevada Corp.'s first space-rated Dream Chaser space plane has arrived at the company's Colorado factory for integration with computers, a heat shield and mechanical systems before launch to the International Space Station in late 2021. The spaceship has been more than 15 years in the making for Sierra Nevada - also known as SNC - a family-owned, privately-held company based in Nevada with a space unit headquartered in Louisville, Colorado, near Denver. Originally conceived as a human-rated vehicle to ferry astronauts to and from low Earth orbit, the Dream Chaser is now under development under contract to NASA as a cargo freighter for the space station. Sierra Nevada is contracted to fly ..."

NTSB Offers Preliminary Information on B−17 Accident

NTSB Offers Preliminary Information on B-17 Accident - Airplanes and Rockets"As the Collings Foundation's crippled B−17, N93012, was approaching Runway 6 at Bradley Windsor Locks, Connecticut, a few weeks ago, the crew was already desperately pressed for altitude to try and align the World War II bomber with the runway for landing. Shortly after takeoff from Runway 6 just minutes before, the airplane never climbed above 500 feet AGL before it began a return to the field with a mechanical problem reported in the number four engine. By the time the airplane was on downwind, its altitude had dropped to 300 feet. During the turn from base to final, the Boeing continued losing altitude, eventually striking the airport approach lights 1,000 feet short of the hard surface ..."

Veterans Day 2019: A Pittance of Time

Veterans Day 2016 (Snoopy copyright) - RF CafeThis is my annual Veterans Day tribute. On November 11 (the 11th day of the 11th month), at 11:00 am (the 11th hour), we observe 2 minutes of silence in honor of countrymen who "gave the last full measure of devotion." A Pittance of Time is performed by Canadian citizen Terry Kelly (he went blind at an early age). It was written after an experience he had on Veterans Day in 1999. It is done in the finest Celtic tradition.



Mercury Transit on Monday, November 11

Mercury transit November 11, 2019 - Airplanes and RocketsMercury will pass across the face of the sun. The astronomical term is "transit." What makes this transit of Mercury so spectacular is that it passes nearly in the center of the sun. It will take Mercury approximately 5-1/2 hours to move from the eastern edge to the western edge, from 7:35 am to 1:04 pm EST. Both the sun and the moon subtend an angular width of about half a degree. Of course will should never look directly at the sun with your naked eyes, and particularly not with any sort of magnification, be it binoculars or a telescope. The safest way to observe this Mercury transit it by using a white projection screen with any telescope generate an image large enough to make the black dot of Mercury stand out relative to the sun. Weather permitting, I'll have my 1969 era 60 mm Sears Model 6305A refractor set up. The next transit of Mercury will be in 2032!

Professor Phugoid and His Contribution to Modeling

Professor Phugoid and His Contribution to Modeling, from April 1951 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsAn ability to trim a model aircraft for proper flight with no supplementary control surface input has, since the advent of precise, reliable radio control (R/C), been the domain mostly of the relatively small number of free flight (F/F) and competition fliers of control line (C/L) and R/C. Most models can be made to fly very well when a human or electronic pilot is able to make corrective deflections of control surfaces. Warped and twisted wings, misaligned tail surfaces, and even a dangerously mislocated center of gravity can have their otherwise detrimental - even dangerous - effects mitigated by a skillful flyer. Authors have written that a properly trimmed model of any sort will fly more precisely and successfully ...

UK Drone Operators Must Register by End of November

UK Drone Operators Must Register by End of November - Airplanes and Rockets"The UK government is requiring drone operators to register their aerial vehicles. In a press release, the UK Civil Aviation Authority announced that in conjunction with the mandatory registration it is launching a new service to help drone owners find their lost drones. Under the scheme, all drone owners and operators in the UK that have droves that weigh more than 250g have to register them. Registration costs £9 which the UK government argues is a lot cheaper than replacing a lost drone. UK drone owners have until 30 November to register or they can face a fine of as much as $1290, according to one report ..."

Douglas O-31A Observation Plane

Douglas O-31A Observation Plane, February 1942 Flying Aces - Airplanes and RocketsThe February 1942 issue of Flying Aces magazine contained a quadruplet of 3-view scale drawings of early airplanes: The German Fokker D.V Albatros fighter biplane, the American Army Air Force's Douglas O-31A observation monoplane, the Ryan Navy Seaplane, and Russian I-16 Mosca fighter low wing monoplane. Per Wikipedia, "The Douglas O-31 was the Douglas Aircraft Company's first monoplane observation straight-wing aircraft used by the United States Army Air Corps. Anxious to retain its position as chief supplier of observation aircraft to the USAAC, Douglas developed a proposal for a high-wing monoplane successor to the O-2. A contract was signed on January 7, 1930 for two XO-31 prototype aircraft ...

Free Flight Sensation: Bob Linn's B-70

Free Flight Sensation: Bob Linn's B-70 Article & Plans, May 1961 American Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsJet airplanes were still somewhat of a novelty with actual flying models when this article about a free flight North American XB−70 Valkyrie appeared in a 1961 issue of American Modeler magazine. This rather large - 21" wingspan and 45" long at 15 ounces - craft is built of 3/32" and 1/4" balsa sheet and is powered by a Cox .049 engine in a pusher configuration. That's not a lot of power for such a large ship, but it must have been. The plans are easily scaled up or down with pencil and paper thanks to a 1" square grid provided. Today, the B−70 could probably be built lighter and be powered by an electric propulsion setup ...


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Kirt Blattenberger, Webmaster - Airplanes and Rockets
Kirt Blattenberger
Carpe Diem!
(Seize the Day!)
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 ...
1996 - 2018
Kirt Blattenberger
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