- Home Page Archive #17 - "Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible."
Lord Kelvin, 1895
In order to provide for a reasonable homepage loading time, it is impractical to just
keep adding items to the top of the stack and keep all the old stuff there too. Therefore,
I have created these Airplanes and Rockets Homepage Archives to maintain a historical
snapshot of everything once on the homepage. Unfortunately, I did not think to keep a
record until around Fall of 2009; I had just been deleting items from the bottom of the
stack. No more, though. Hence forth, if you recall seeing something on the homepage but
it is no longer there, please check out these archive pages. I also keep an archive of
all the modeling news additions:
Amateur Observations During the Total Eclipse of the Sun
radio operators, as with hobbyist participants in many other realms, historically have contributed significantly to
the efforts of their professional counterparts. I have written of it often. This particular instance is where signal
measurements in the Ham bands during a total eclipse of the sun were used to assist scientists debating the merits
of rival theories relating to origin of ionization in the
Kennelly-Heavyside Layers of the E and F regions, both of which were proposed in 1902 (yes,
the Heaviside of step function fame). Long distance (DX) communications are dependent
upon such ionization to reflect radio signals that would otherwise pass through the atmosphere and into space. The
test at hand would settle the argument since the one should fail if ionization was unaffected during totality. Read
the article (or skip to the end) to discover which gentleman's theory won the day.
In-Process Building Photos of Ace Pacer
visitor Steve S., of Canada, likes building and flying R/C models that can be powered by Cox engines. He has been
sending photos of some models he has built in the last couple years. The latest batch of photos is of an
Ace Pacer that was
featured in the August 1974 edition of American Aircraft Modeler. Steve's other recent project is a
Fifth RC World Champs
article covering a major R/C competition in one of today's modeling magazines would be 90% color photos and 10% text.
In 1967 it was just the opposite, as this coverage of the "Fifth
World Championships of Air Gymnastics for Remote Controlled Aircraft" shows - and there is no color to be found.
Maybe the old adage about a picture being worth a thousand words balances the equation. 43 pilots represented 17 nations
on the French island of Corsica. Phil Kraft and his own design Kwik Fli IV ruled the day. France and Germany took
second and third place, respectively. If you like reading about how the early pattern radios, airplanes and engines
were combined to wow the crowds, this one is for you.
Sketchbook - Hints & Kinks Model Building
Sketchbook was scanned from the July 1962 American
Modeler, page 42. 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. Some guys just would rather build
than buy a pre-build airplane, whether from a kit or from plans.
Therapeutic Horse Riding Mounting
daughter, Sally Cochran, and her husband, Matt, own and operate the Equine Kingdom Riding Academy on their farm in
Greensboro, North Carolina. Sally is currently a Level 2 American Riding Instructor's Association instructor certified
in Recreational Riding and Hunt Seat on the Flat, a member of AQHA, NCHJA, and PATH Int'l. She became a PATH certified
instructor in November 2012. In order to fully implement a
therapeutic riding program at Equine Kingdom,
it was necessary to install a mounting platform
and access ramp that can be used to assist people in wheelchairs and with other disabilities in mounting and dismounting
horses. Commercially made platforms/ramps start at around $5,000, which is far too expensive for an operation like
Equine Kingdom. So, I researched some of the government's handicap access requirements and designed the mounting platform
and ramp shown below. As you might expect, there are no shortage of regulations...
Fox 40 R/C Advertisement
particular page is from page 41 of the April 1962 issue of American Modeler magazine. Fox Manufacturing is
still in operation. A modern Fox 40-RC
will cost you $84.95 directly from Fox, so here is a an example of prices actually decreasing relative to inflation
(see below). Use the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' inflation calculator to see
what items cost in today's dollars. For instance, that $24.95 Fox 40 R/C would be $191.81 in 2013 money. The $8.95
Fox 15 is $68.80 in 2013 dollars (a new one today from Fox costs $73.50).
How to Add Radio Controls to Scale Free Flight Kits
RCGroups.com, and other online forums are full of examples of people
flight rubber-powered model airplanes to radio control. Modern featherweight airborne R/C system components and
tiny, powerful motors makes full-house (rudder, elevator, throttle, and ailerons) possible. In 1962, however, converting,
say, a Guillows SE-5 WWI biplane to R/C meant installing a Cox 020 in the nose and settling for rudder-only control
using an escapement system. Escapements saved a little on weight by using a wound rubber band as the mechanical torque
driver, but the NiCad or Alkaline batteries were (and are still) heavy as compared to Li-Ion and the vibration of
an internal combustion engine wreaks havoc with a stick and tissue airframe. Still, you work with what you've got,
and that's exactly what famed modeler Ken Willard did with the subject of this article.
Battle at Denver
hard to believe 1961 was over half a century ago. That is when this "NARAM"
(National Association Annual Meet) took place in Denver, Colorado. As with the U.S. Navy's involvement with the Academy
of Model Aeronautics (AMA) Nationals (Nats), the U.S. Air Force, in July of 1961, officially encouraged model rocketry
as a hobby for USAF personnel, including the Civil Air Patrol (CAP). The USAF had a vested interest in encouraging
young men to develop an interest in rocket development, operation, and maintenance in order to ensure an ample supply
of enlisted and officer personnel for its missile programs.
Blohm Voss 141-B Profile C/L Model
for 049 Power
visitor Lieven M. requested that this article on the
Blohm Voss 141-B (BV 141-B)
be scanned and posted from the August 1970 edition of American Aircraft Modeler. The BV 141-B, designed
by Mr. Terry Aldrich, is a unique scale subject in that it is a World War II German fighter-bomber featuring
an asymmetrical configuration. Construction uses sheet balsa for the wings, tail surfaces, and profile fuselage. Power
is provided by a single 049 engine.
An Experiment with Gravity
is pretty cool. If I owned a good receiver, I would definitely give it a try. In 1970 when this Popular Electronics
article was written, a lot of Hams were still using tube receivers so the recommendation to let the equipment warm
up for several hours prior to making the fine frequency adjustments was good advice. Nowadays the warm-up time and
stability of receivers should permit 30 minutes or so to suffice (even ovenized frequency references need time to
stabilize when first powered up). Unless I missed it, the author does not explicitly state that the frequency change
measured over time is due to
on the mass of the crystal reference, but I suspect that is his intention since part of the experiment involves
disconnecting the antenna and shielding the receiver from outside interferers. Over a lunar month period (29.5 days)
we experience a leap tide and a neap tide which maximizes and minimizes, respectively, the vector sum of gravity and
therefore should result in the greatest excursions. Maybe with a super-stable source, a larger scale phenomenon such
as a planetary syzygy could be detected (but I doubt it).
seems most every old time rubber-powered free flight model has been converted by someone to electric-powered radio
control. The availability of motors and R/C airborne systems weighing in the grams - or fraction thereof - is making
R/C flight for even the tiniest models possible. It would be interesting to see somebody convert these
Matchbox Fliers to at least single-channel
R/C. Heck, there's probably a way to even mount a camera to a model this small these days.
Is Your Birthday Star?
you ask most people what a birth star is, almost certainly he/she
will relate it somehow to astrology. The thought makes me cringe. Although there really is no such thing as a birth
star, there is such a thing as a star whose distance from Earth is equivalent in light-years to the day you were born.
That means the light leaving the star actually began radiating in the direction of Earth within a few months of the
day you were born. For instance, I was born on August 18, 1958, which was 54.5 years ago. All that's needed to find
my birthday star is to find one that is 54.5 light-years away. Fortunately, there's an app for that...
Livingston, NJ, Club Builds Control Line Navy Carrier Deck
line Navy Carrier is another form of flying I have always wanted to try but never had the chance (yes, I know, no
excuses). Here in this 1967 edition of American Modeler is a photo of the guys at the Livingston, N.J., Model
Airplane Club assembling their fancy new carrier deck. There are not a whole lot of videos out there of control line
Navy carrier flying, but I posted a couple good ones I found.
The Power of Magnet Steering in
not sure when the sport of flying free-flight gliders using magnetic steering took on the official classification
of F1E, "Gliders with Automatic Steering,"
but this article from the September 1967 edition of American Modeler makes no mention of it. In FAI nomenclature,
the "F" stands for "flying," the "1" stands for "free-flight," and the "E" is the specific class. Videos from the
2007 and 2009 world championships are included below. This is really a nice, pure form of model airplane flying.
Please Support This Website
After many years of collecting vintage modeling gear from my past, I am now trying to sell some things to make
way for new[old] things. Some of the stuff is only a year or two old, like the Futaba radio and Flight Simulator.
I have engines, model kits, radio gear, software, tools, and various sundry other items. Prices are better than you'll
likely find on auction site, and I promise you that I would never knowingly misrepresent anything I sell. Please take
a look, and tell your friends. Thanks. <See
For Sale Here>
Formation Flying Without an Airplane
Model Airplane News sends out an e-mail newsletter that usually has some really interesting stuff in it. This
week was no exception. As with most forms of extreme sports, BASE (Building, Antennas, Bridges, and Earth) jumping
has evolved significantly over the last couple decades. No longer content with merely launching themselves off treacherous
cliffs and radio tower with a simple parachute, many now don wingsuits that look and allow them to soar like flying
squirrels. Hugging cliff edges and squeezing through impossibly narrow mountain crags while traveling at speeds in
the 100 mph range is routine with these guys. That is after climbing multi-thousand foot high mountains to reach
their jumping points. This video by wingsuit maker Phoenix Fly
will make keep you in awe.
Bushmaster Article & Plans
visitor Andrea V., of Italy, wrote to request that I post this construction article for the
Bushmaster R/C airplane. What makes
this model article unique is that it was published in October of 1974 - nearly 40 years ago when electric power was
still the realm of relatively few experimenters. Brushed motors and NiCad batteries were the technology of the day.
Adding to the motor and battery weight is a rather bulky, yet robust airframe with a 61.5" wingspan. The plans in
the magazine spanned across two pages and did not stitch together well in the image below. The AMA does still sell
the full-size plans if you are interested in building a Bushmaster for the sake of nostalgia.
suppose in a technical sense this contraption is a turboprop insofar as it uses a jet engine (or more correctly a
rocket engine) to power a standard propeller. There are a couple problems with the claims made in this
that appeared in the December 1954 edition of Air Trails. First, since the propulsion unit looks to be about the size
of a Jetex 50 motor, there is no way it can be "Comparable to '1/2-A' conventional engines," unless they mean a 1/2-A
at idle power. Second, the claim of "Absolutely no torque - but super-powered jetlike thrust," cannot be correct unless
the propeller and jet engine rotate in opposite directions and are equal in torque. As Mr. Newton pointed out,
for every action there is and equal and opposite reaction. It might be vibration-free, but it ain't torque-free.
Sopwith Camel Refinishing Finally Completed
back in 2009 I built a Sopwith Camel from Manzano Laserworks. It was originally configured for 3-channel R/C, but
after an unplanned landing, I decided while affecting repairs to convert it to control line (C/L). The
silkspan and dope covering job was the subject of a
video tutorial series I did. All went well and the craft was awaiting a chance to fly when I managed to knock a drawer
into it and bust through the bottom wing. It was crushed and so was my spirit. The Camel nearly got trashed just out
of frustration. However, I set it aside for a few years and have now finally completed the repair and refinishing.
One good thing that resulted is this time I painted the bottoms of the wings yellow as they should be, and the roundels
were enlarged to scale proportions (too small originally). For now, the Sopwith
Camel hangs safely on the wall with Snoopy at the controls.
Modelers You'd Like to Know
don't know whether this "Modelers You'd Like to Know" column became a regular feature in American Modeler, but it
is the first and only I have seen so far. Here, a short biography is given of five noteworthy modelers of the era.
Howard McEntee is a familiar name to most people who have been in the model airplane hobby since the 1970s, but the
others are not necessarily so well known. What qualifies each for highlighting is not necessarily having achieved
great fame and/or fortune, but the story of their journey in the life of aeromodeling. A good example is
Pete Sotich. He
and his brother, Charlie, were well-known in the 1950s and 1960s for their contest activity. Pete served as president
of the AMA for a while. Interestingly, Pete had his modeler career interrupted by being drafted into the Army during
WW II, whereupon he spent 14 months as a POW in Germany after being captured at Anzio in February of 1944. It
likely was not a Hogan's Heroes experience.
Aircraft Trivia: Tarmac
you know that the word "tarmac," used to describe the service and parking area of airports, is a shortened form of
"tarmacadam," or "tar-penetration macadam?" Per
Wikipedia: Macadam is a type of road construction pioneered by Scottish engineer John Loudon McAdam in around 1820.
The method simplified what had been considered state of the art at that point. Single-sized aggregate layers of small
stones, with a coating of binder as a cementing agent, are mixed in an open-structured roadway. Of course it would
be rare to find an actual macadam surface at any airport today; asphalt or concrete would be most likely.
U.S. Department of State Says Spacesuits Are Weapons
would have guessed that you need the blessing of the U.S. Department of State if you want to make and sell spacesuits?
Yep, spacesuits are classified as weapons since, by bureaucratic logic (yeah, a non sequitur),
if you have the capability to attain a presence at an altitude that requires a spacesuit, you can be a strategic threat
to the nation. Here is a story about a startup company in Brooklyn, NY, that found out the hard way about the
spacesuit-weapon requirement. There is a rapidly growing demand for functional-yet-stylish spacesuits for safeguarding
wealthy space tourists who will soon be blasting off to the top of Earth's atmosphere where space officially begins
(at about 50 miles / 80 km). BTW, I tried finding the official policy
on spacesuit production the Department of State website, but their
search engine keeps failing - must be busy deleting files on the
Scale Views of Norair's N-156-F
Corporation, today known as Northrop-Grumman, designed and manufactured the f-5A Freedom Fighter, which was more famous
in its USAF supersonic trainer role as the T-38 Talon. The prototype aircraft was designated the
N-156-F (or N-156F). This
highly detailed drawing and photos of the N-156F appeared in the January 1962 edition of the AMA's American Modeler
magazine. The drawing is signed "tagey."
America's Hobby Center Advertisement from 1962
particular advertisement by
America's Hobby Center
is from pages 8 & 9 of the January 1962 issue of American Modeler magazine. I can remember looking
at all the cool stuff crammed into their ads, with the barely readable print, and salivating over the thought of being
able to buy all of it. America's Hobby Center is no longer in operation. All copyrights (if any) are hereby acknowledged.
Use the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' inflation calculator to see what items cost in today's dollars. For instance,
that $11.95 "Veco .19 R/C" would be $91.12 in 2013 money.
Amateur Radio Astronomy in QST Magazine
is the official publication of the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL), the world's oldest and largest organization
for Ham radio enthusiasts. Many amateur radio operators also have an interest in astronomy and as such, occasionally
articles appear covering topics on amateur
radio astronomy. There are also quite a few articles dealing indirectly with aspects of astronomy such as Earth-Moon-Earth
(EME) communications where signals are bounced off the moon's surface in order to facilitate transmission (although
it is really more of a hobby achievement). The October 2012 edition of QST had an article entitled, "Those Mysterious
Signals*," which discusses galactic noise in the 10-meter band. Arch Doty (W7ACD) writes about the low-level background
noise that is persistent in the high frequency (HF) bands. At HF, Cygnus A and Cassiopeia A are major sources
of cosmic noise, for example. Low level signals come from pulsars...
Sketchbook Hints & Kinks
Sketchbook was scanned from the March 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. Some guys just would rather build than buy a pre-build airplane, whether from a kit or from
Industry Cannot Produce if It Is Taxed to Death
might be hard to imagine, but there was a time when all of the major media outlets were not socialist propagandists
for the State. This editorial from the February 19, 1949 edition of The Saturday Evening Post is an example. Titled
Cannot Produce if It Is Taxed to Death," it makes the case. Which magazine or newspaper of today would print something
like, "The idea seems to be that you tax the corporations to the point of extinction because corporations are rich,
selfish and antisocial. Actually, the corporation is a legal device to mobilize the savings of scattered individuals
in such a manner that they can be used to set up and equip our industrial system more effectively than individual
savers could do alone?"
Velveeta Cheese Honors the Mall Helicopter Salesman
Have you seen this? "You know that guy that sells those
control helicopters at the mall. Buy 'em or don't - whatever, man. Either way he gets to fly helicopters all day.
I'm talking Di Vinci-style flying machines. He's dating Kala, the lotion girl. Able... bodied... athleticism. Here's
his buddy Marco, who's got the hot water for his Velveeta Shells & Cheese. Achieve your dreams. Liquid Gold.
Eat like that guy you know." Be sure to pick up a pack of Velveeta Shells & Cheese on your next shopping trip.
Berkeley model Ad from December 1954 Air Trails
three pages of Berkeley Models advertisement appeared in the December 1954 edition of Air Trails Hobbies for Young
Men magazine. Berkeley Models is no longer in operation, unfortunately(if they were still around, I doubt any company from Berkeley would use the word 'Christmas'
in an ad - sad). Use the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics'
inflation calculator to see what items cost in
today's dollars. For instance, that $3.95 US Army YL-24 "Helioplane" would be $33.81 in 2013 money.
Sterling Models Ad from December 1954 Air Trails
two pages of advertisements form Sterling Models are from page 62 of the December 1954 issue of Air Trails Hobbies
for Young Men magazine. Sterling Models is no longer in operation, unfortunately. Use the U.S. Bureau of Labor
Statistics' inflation calculator to see what
items cost in today's dollars. For instance, that $5.95 Chance-Vaught Corsair
F4U-1 control line model would be $50.94 in 2013 money - a 10x increase in inflation! I paid about $60 for the
kit on eBay a couple years ago, so it definitely has collector value that outpaces inflation.
Bean Hill Flyers March/April 2013 Newsletter
The March/April 2013 edition of the Bean Hill Flyers newsletter is now available online. Club members receive a hard
copy via snail mail. A column from Joe Daniels, president, and from Chris Keller, safety officer, is included, as
are the club bylaws and a calendar of events. The Skylarks of Sharon, PA, hold their annual Swap Meet on March 17.
See the photos of Joe Maxwell
and Lee Hammett showing their framed-up models for the 2013 flying season.
Build Your Own Douglas C-47 World's Most Famous Plane
you have been around me for any length of time, then you know that the
Douglas DC-3 / C-47 is my favorite
all-time airplane. It at the same time invokes a sense of nostalgia for the early days of 'modern' aviation and an
appreciation for the ingenuity and craftsmanship that typify good old American outside-the-box thinking. My intention
has for decades been to build a control-line model of the C-47 and paint it in D-Day invasion markings, but alas time
and - earlier in life anyway - money always hindered the effort. There is no kit, old or new, that I can find with
a wingspan in the 45-54" range. The available kit from Guillows is too small, and the kit from Top Flite is too large.
Finally, as of this writing, I have full-size plans and most of the balsa and plywood needed to construct a 48-inch-wingspan
version. These plans by Walter A. Musciano are drawn at 1/2" = 1' (48" wingspan), but you can have it printed at an
office store to any size you want. If the past is any indicator of the future, it will be complete and ready to fly
in about five years - yeah, kinda sad. With turning 55 years old this year, I really cannot put it off much longer
or it might never get started, much less finished! I'll post photos of the build as they materialize with the model.
Stringless Wonder by Ken A.
Visitor Ken A. submitted this photo of his
Stringless Wonder rubber free
flight model that he built for his grandkids over the weekend. He saw the article on Airplanes and Rockets and decided
it would make a good subject. The article and plans originally appeared in the April 1971 edition of American
Aircraft Modeler. Construction and tissue application is obviously that of a seasoned pro. Note the profile of
Benjamin Franklin on the patriotic red, white, and blue color scheme - just like the original!
Google Tribute to Nicolaus Copernicus
homepage today has an animated tribute to Nicolaus Copernicus on this 540th anniversary of his birthday. Only the
planets know to exist in Copernicus's day (out to Jupiter) are shown orbiting the sun,
plus our moon is orbiting Earth. Galileo had not yet discovered the large large moons of
nor had Christiaan Huygens found
largest moon, Titan. Right-click in an empty and select View Source to see the immense amount of code used to generate
that animation (turn word wrap on).
Is Friday's Asteroid Approach
One Possible Future?
know there's a
meteor due to scream by within 17,200 miles of the Earth on Friday, February 15, that will pass inside the orbits
of many communications satellites, right? Well, maybe this is the "possible future" that Griffin envisions at the
very end of Men in Black 3 (MIB3)
for the scenario where Agent K forgets to leave a tip. I'm just say'n it's possible.
media moron a
ask Bill Nye the Science Guy if the meteor is due to global warming - how pathetic!