Johnson was a well-known designer and manufacturer of model airplane engines in the middle of the last century. His
series of throttled engines was widely used in the early years of radio control. A lot of research went into producing
the enges to produce long lifetime, easy starting, and consistency of operation. The
Johnson 35 R/C
, which is the subject
of this article, was one of the first to used dual ball bearings on the crankshaft, contributing mightly to the accomplishment
of the aforementioned goals. The state of the art for all types of model flying had advanced to where pilots could
expect their models...
seafarers' superstitions wore on long past the days when sailors believed their ship might run over the edge of the
Earth. They carried over into maritime services well into the 20th century, and probably to some extent into the 21st
century. It was common to blame a long string of bad luck on one poor sap whose appearance on the scene just happened
to coincide with the supposed curse. He was called a "Jonah," after the Biblical character whose presence on a fishing
boat caused a constant run of bad weather until the crew finally tossed him overboard where the leviathan of the deep
swallowed him. In this story from a 1938 edition of Boys' Life, a particular seaplane suffered problem after problem,
like water in the gas tank causing dead stick landings on rough seas, so the pilots and mechanics referred to it as
." As with many stories
of the era, this one centers around airplanes and ships.
three decades after Wilbur and Orville Wright made the first flight where their eponymous Flyer took off and landed
under its own power, aeroplanes were still a mystery to most of the public. Some probably still thought it was witchcraft
or some other evil influence holding man and craft aloft. Movies of the era were filled with airplanes and the daring
young men who piloted them for war, for recreation, and for profit. This report from a 1938 edition of
is evidence of just
how ubiquitous flying machines were in films. Big-name actors like Lionel Barrymore, Basil Rathbone, Fred Astaire,
and Ginger Rogers added to the excitement...
had no idea that there were multiple versions of the
. This article from an 1962 edition
of American Modeler provides a fairly in-depth look at the history of the airplane. If you follow politics at all,
you know that Halliburton is a name that became a household word when George Bush chose Dick Cheney as his vice president.
According to author Joe Christy, SAFE-way airline, which operated Ford Trimotors, was started by Oklahoma oilman Erle
Halliburton, and was sold to TWA (Trans World Airline)
in 1931. In an incredible
stroke of good fortune, Melanie and I were able to take a ride in a Ford Trimotor in the summer of 2013, flying out
of Erie International Airport.
you appreciate airplane related humor, then you will want to check out this collection that appeared in the April
1957 edition of American Modeler. In the not too distant future, I predict that similar scenarios will actually occur
as hapless operators of radio controlled
fly into restricted airspace that military and law enforcement agencies are responsible for monitoring
States Rubber Company
was one of the original 12 companies used to calculate the Dow Jones Industrial Average
for the stock market on Wall Street. In addition to manufacturing automobile and
airplane tires, it also supplied the free flight model world with T-56 rubber for powering. T-56, along with tan rubber
from Pirelli, Dunlop, was considered the cream of the crop back in the middle and late 20th century. Many old timers
still lament of its eventual disappearance from the market and treasure their hordes of the stuff from days of yore.
visitor Sam B. wrote asking that I scan and post this article on the Ranson "Warrior" X-3 homebuilt airplane
that appeared in the November 1957 edition of American Modeler
. He is considering building a control line
version of it. Unfortunately, only a 3-view drawing of the craft appear in the magazine, but there are also a couple
photos (along with the color Cover Photo) that should help with drawing plans. A Web search turned up only one example
of a full-size Rason Warrior X-3 (N1528Y)
The was a link to a rubber-powered free flight model version, but the links are broken. There is a plans listing for
a 13" Ranson Warrior X-3 in the AMA Plans Service's list.
computer software has replaced much of the simulation and experimentation that used to be the sole domain of
wind and smoke tunnels
. The mathematical equations
are so complex for high resolution, 3-dimensional calculations that very powerful computers are required to run even
relatively simple simulations. While there are programs that can be purchased for about $1,000 that do a good job
for uncomplicated shapes, large, university and corporation scale computers are needed for "serious" work like designing
commercial and military aircraft, passenger cars, competition sailboats, and many other applications. Even so,
NASA, the ESA, and other large organizations still operate tunnels for testing prototypes that have emerged from simulations.
This article provides plans and instructions for...
month in Model Aviation
, the AMA's monthly publication, there is a "Safety" column that reports on model-related
accidents and issues like not charging Li-Po batteries in appropriate containers, not smoking around glow fuel and
gasoline, not flipping your propeller with a bare finger, etc. Many moons ago the big safety concern was not flying
control line models too near to high voltage power lines. This photo from the April 1967 edition of American Modeler
shows some guy attempting to retrieve a radio control model from its landing spot atop a set of telegraph wires. He
is standing on a barbed wire fence using a wooden pole to prod it off the lines. The captions asks, "Who knows line
voltage?" I looked it up. Typical telegraph line voltages ran from 500 to 1,200 volts according to the 1922 Railway
Signaling and Communications...
published stories on many forms of modeling including airplanes, cars, boats, and rockets. A lot of attention
was paid to teenagers in order to encourage a pursuit of careers in engineering and science. In case you don't know,
the U.S. Navy used to sponsor the AMA Nationals specifically to attract young modelers into the service. This 1957
edition reports on the activities of James M. Blackmon,
, who was the nation's youngest rocket builder to receive national recognition by the American Rocket Society.
He built in his basement a 6' tall liquid-fueled rocket model. Fortunately for him, his parents and the CAA
(now the FAA)
put the kibosh on the flight testing before a potential hazard could emerge.
Lots of kids lost fingers and eyes to such experimentation prior to Estes introducing solid propellant rocket motors.
Nevertheless, Jim's efforts attracted...
once again for helping to make AirplanesAndRockets a success. I truly appreciate the support of advertisers and visitors.
Your inputs are always welcome.
are a few of my favorite
Christmas music videos.
They include an eclectic mix of
(new for 2013), the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, an unlikely duet sung by Bing Crosby
Bowie, and Casting Crowns. Watching the instruments being played really enhances the effect of the song.
visitor Mike L. wrote to ask that I scan and post this "Snoopy
article that appeared in the December 1972 edition of American Aircraft Modeler
. Mike liked the Snoopy so
much that back in the 1970s he built a couple of them. Now, 40-some years later, the bug has bitten again and it's
time to build another. Snoopy is a 4-channel R/C sport aerobatic trainer model with a 48" wingspan, using a .15 to
.35 engine. It is all balsa and plywood construction. Mike's original Snoopys were powered by a Veco .19 and used
a Kraft Sport 5 radio for guidance.
looking for the edition of TV Guide
that published the first airing of "A Charlie Brown Christmas,"
I noticed that the time period coincided with the launching of the
Gemini VII spacecraft
. In a stroke of good
fortune, it indeed included an announcement that regularly scheduled programming would be preempted as necessary to
provide live coverage of the launch, to give timely updates, and to coverage the splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean.
doing research on rocket-powered gliders and boost-glide rockets, I ran across the
Wombat rocket-boost glider
tried to find either a source for buying a kit or for buying the plans. Neither seem to be available - at least not
for me. When I posted a photo of David Wagner's Wombat, I requested knowledge of a source for plans and someone send
me an old scanned set. I cleaned them up and posted them here. If you are the copyright owner and do not wish
to have them posted, please let me know and I will remove them posthaste.
were always my mother's favorite Sunday evening pastime. It's not that she couldn't handle the
New York Times'
notoriously challenging crossword, it's just that The Evening Capital
didn't have a Sunday edition so we didn't get the puzzle. My father worked as the classified advertising manager at
The Evening Capital
so we received a free subscription to the paper. This particular crossword puzzle appeared
in the edition of TV Guide
that featured the first-ever airing of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" which
I bought on eBay, so I figured I might as well scan and post it. Enjoy!
a lifelong admirer of Charles Schulz's Peanuts
comic strip, I occasionally buy a collectible item like a
Snoopy music box that plays "It's a Long Way to Tipperary," a plastic Schroeder and piano figurine, a Charlie Brown
Skediddler, or a Snoopy astronaut from the Apollo era. This time I bought the edition of TV Guide
announced the first showing of the "A Charlie Brown
" cartoon. Also in this edition is the announcement of plans to preempt regular programming to televise
the launch of the Gemini VII spacecraft, which carried astronauts Frank Borman and James A. Lovell. It launched
right on time at 2:30 pm on December 4th.
been an amateur philatelist for more than 40 years, I am quite familiar with the very valuable "Inverted
" misprint stamp that occurred during the initial printing of America's first Air Mail stamp in 1918. Supposedly
only one sheet of 100 stamps got past the inspectors before the error was caught; inversions were common in the day
for multi-colored stamps. The blue Curtiss JN-4 Jenny biplane, one of the most commonly used airmail planes, was printed
upside down as the result of the first red printing sheet being fed backwards into the printing machine. To date the
highest price paid for a single mint-condition, never-hinged example is...
visitor David Wagner, of Santa Fe, New Mexico, was kind enough to send me photos of his two very fine rocket-powered
gliders - the Sylph
. He is also in the process building a Cheechako
rocket glider based on an article from the February 1972 edition of American Aircraft Modeler. Hopefully, David will
also send a photo of his Cheechako when it is ready.
visitor H.G.F., of Oshkosh, wrote to request that I scan and post the construction article for the "Thing"
lifting body glider
. "Thing" is a small 3-D
polygonally shaped craft made from sheet balsa that is 7-1/4" long, 3-1/8" wide, and 3-3/8" high with a glob of modeling
clay on the nose for balance. I imagine it could be scaled up a bit if you want something bigger. "Thing" was designed
in the early 1970s at about the time lifting bodies were a big deal. Recall (if you were around then) that it was
the era of astronaut Steven Austin and the Six Million Dollar Man television show.
you've ever been a kid - or are one now - then you know there is no such thing as getting too early of a start in
priming your parents for Christmas... not for what they want, of course, but for what you want. In fact, if you haven't
begun dropping hints by Thanksgiving, then you really need some remedial training in how to handle the season. Here
I offer some assistance. Recall how in A Christmas Story
, Ralph "Ralphie" Parker exhibited a manic desire
for an "official Red Ryder carbon action 200-shot Range model air rifle with a compass in the stock, and this thing
which tells time." His scheme was to place copies of the Red Ryder advertisement from Boys' Life
mother's and father's magazines so that they would see it. A more direct - and probably more effective - method is
to print out this "Hobby Hinter
appeared in the December 1954 edition of Air Trails Hobbies for Young Men
. Good luck!
Rush III is an R/C pylon racer
was ahead of its time - and its competition - in 1962. Virtually none of the features of the plane can be found in
today's pylon racers, though, except maybe the fiberglass fuselage. The homemade retractable landing gear
(or any type of retracts for that matter)
is the most notable exception. Full building
instructions are featured on the plans. AMA rules at the time called for a whopping 766 sq. in. of wing area with
a .19 size engine. If you are looking to build a vintage model that probably flies pretty well both for speed and
aerobatics characteristics using a modern lightweight radio and much more powerful engine (or
, then the Gold Rush III would be worth considering.
unsigned e-mail arrived requesting that I scan and post this construction article for
Harold deBolt's Crusader
from the August 1959
edition of American Modeler
. I offer the service free of charge for anyone that writes, provided I already
have the magazine. There have even been a couple cases where I bought editions on eBay after people asked for them
in order to be able to post the articles. I'll never understand people who don't have the courtesy of signing an e-mail
when asking for a favor (this isn't the first time)
... and no excuses about being old
and not knowing how to use the computer - would you do the same thing with hand-written letters? Then again, maybe
he hit the Send button accidently before finishing.
time I read stories in these old model airplane magazines, especially those reporting on contests, I wonder where
are all the great models that were represented in them? On a couple occasions people have written to let me know where
they have gone, as was the case recently with USAF TSgt. Gordon Ford's incredible collection of giant control line
scale, multi-engined flying models. A couple years ago a relative of a contestant (the now husband
of a then teenage girl rocketeer, amazingly)
wrote in response to an article I published about a model rocket
contest in Mankato, Minnesota. Hopefully, someone who knows someone who is pictured here in this coverage of the
1955 AMA Nationals
wood was a special thing to me as a kid. To me, it represented the essence of model airplanes and model rockets. At
the time - the 1960s and 70s - plastic and foam as model components were considered a sign of cheapness, low quality,
amateurishness. It was like having "Made in Japan" stamped on it. Now, of course, it's a different world where Japan
is renowned for some of the highest quality electronics and cars and the plastic and foam ARFs represent some of the
highest-performing aircraft at the flying field. I have owned a few of those foamies, but still, at least for my tastes,
nothing beats the look, feel and aroma of balsa
the tell-tale surface texture of foam, even with a nice paint job, ruins the authenticity of an otherwise beautifully
factory-finished scale F4-U Corsair or P-38 Lightning. Sorry, that's just the way it is...
visitor Rick P. requested that I electronically scan and post this drawing of the
1917 Morane-Saulnier AI
(M.S. 29) biplane
that appeared in the April 1969 edition American Aircraft Modeler
magazine. You might be able to scale up
this image below if a suitable set of plans is not available. This full-color 4-view for the 1917 Morane-Saulnier
AI were drawn by prolific artist and draftsman Mr. Björn Karlström.
visitor Massimo D. wrote to wrote to ask that I scan and post this article for the "Sunday
," an .020-powered, stick-framed glider with a "V" tail. What made this model unique was that it was a single-channel
job with an escapement that drove both halves of the "V" tail. Mr. D. did not say what type of radio he plans
to use in his Sunday Flyer, but I assume it will probably be two proportional channels with nano type servos. I wouldn't
be surprised, either, if it ended up being powered by a brushless motor.
A. Wylam has created some amazingly detailed scale aircraft line drawings for Model Airplane News. These line drawings
of the Ford Tri-Motor
from the May 1959 edition
of Model Airplane News is all you need to see to understand just how good he was. Mr. Wylam, per his biography, holds
bachelor's degrees in biology and electrical and mechanical engineering. He worked at Bell Labs and for numerous military
and government agencies, and owns more than 1,500 copyrights and 17 patents. The world is definitely a better place
for William A. Wylan's existence.
was scanned from the June 1962
magazine, page 44. Most building tips are timeless. Even in this era of ready-to-fly
, almost-ready-to-fly (ARF)
, 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.
the 1955 Annual edition of Air Trails:
"Here is one of the most informative collections to date of engine
drawings and data. The information in the chart has been furnished to us by the manufacturer. Each engine 3-view is
full size and is keyed by a number to the chart. You are invited to test your skill by identifying these motors before
checking chart." A total of 68 vintage engines
included from Allyn, Atwood, Cameron, Cheminol, Cox, Forster, Fox, Henry, Herkimer, Holland, K&B, and McCoy include
nitro and diesel power for aircraft, cars, and boats. I measured one engine on each page and indicated its full-scale
size so you can use it to scale any of the others on the page.
Bean Hill Flyers
club is Erie,
Pennsylvania's, only organized control line flying group. It operates under sanction of the Academy of Model Aeronautics
(AMA), charter #4673. Two main flying sites are maintained, one in Albion, PA, and the other in Millcreek, just west
of the Erie city line. If you are looking for plastic scale model airplanes, you will want to look at the huge list
of 21 kits from Dave Evar - prices range from $2 to $10.
is part two of the coverage of the
American control Line
that began in the January 1962 edition of American Modeler
. Part one covered mainly control
line stunt and combat. Part two covers team racing and speed, carrier, jets, and scale. I was amazed to read about
how many large scale jobs suffered structural failures varying in nature from wings breaking to landing gear collapsing.
The multi-engine models had enormous amounts of trouble getting everything working properly. Believe it or not, one
top speed contestant had his winning engine stole out of his model while it was sitting unattended in the flight box.
There have always been scumbags.
are probably precious few people who bother to mix their own fuels anymore, especially since there are so many commercial
brews available, and contest fuels are often prescribed by well-established rules. Such was not always the case. Local
hobby shops for most people carried only a couple choices (often still the case)
mail order for fuel was not always an option (which it is now for 4 gallons or more)
To assist those who wanted a more precise, predictable, and repeatable method for mixing two or more fuel types, Wild
Bill Netzeband devised a fuel mixing
to simplify the task without having to resort to algebraic ratio formulas. As a bonus, Ken Bergen's
Ilyushin IL-10 profile control line stunter plans for .29 to .35 engines are included.
were the first line of defense for London against the onslaught of jet-powered German V-1 Buzz Bombs.
Tempests were used as interceptors, fighter-bombers, escorts, for ground-attack duties against tanks and stationary
targets. The plans are for a control line model scaled at one inch to the foot, which results in a 42" wingspan. Power
is a McCoy .60, which would make for a very over-powered model. Ample room in the nose section easily accommodates
a large powerplant in the model as it did in the full-size craft; in fact, the 24-cylinder Napier "Sabre" gave the
Tempest a top cruise speed of 435 mph!
Flash: Website visitor Roger J. wrote to tell the story of how he inherited an unfinished
Topper control line model from his
uncle. He was kind enough to send a photo of the airframe. Roger intends to complete the build based on the plans
shown at the bottom of this page. Hopefully, he will send a photo of the completed model.
particular advertisement by Guillow's is from page 7 of the March 1955 issue of Air Trails
caught my attention about the ad was the image of the Barnstormer control line model because it shows the lines exiting
the right wing, meaning that it flies in a clockwise direction rather than the now-standard counterclockwise direction.
is still in operation today.
Major Lester D. Gardner, founder of the Institute of the Aeronautical Sciences (now the American
Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics - AIAA)
, is honored in the ad. Major Gardner was a friend and confidant
of the Wright Brothers and was responsible for the original Wright Flyer being preserved and displayed in the Smithsonian
Institute's National Air and Space Museum...
visitor Douglas G. wrote to ask that I scan and post this article from the September 1972 edition of American
. The Peanut-scale Pitts
is another in the series of "For the Tenderfoot" models that feature easy to build and easy to fly designs
meant to help beginners be successful. They would make excellent building subjects for modelers of any age even today
and especially since nowadays the overwhelming number of models are pre-built, making the art of constructing an airplane
and trimming it to fly a scarce commodity in the modeling world.
racing has been around for a long time. At some point the
AMA contest rules
require only a profile type fuselage, and the maximum engine displacement 0.1525 cubic inches. There is also Slow
Rat Racing which allows engines up to 0.2599 cubic inches. A 1/2A class is also specified for engines up to 0.0504
cubic inches, also with a profile fuselage. So, that means the Desert Rat evidently would not qualify for today's
competitions since not only does it have a built-up fuselage, but it uses a 0.35 cubic inch engine. Maybe some day
there will be a "classic" event for these early rat racer designs like there is for control line stunt.
was scanned from the
September / October 1963 American Modeler
, page 68. Most building tips are timeless. Even in this era of
, almost-ready-to-fly (ARF)
, 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-built airplane, whether from a kit or from plans.
you're anything like me, you have an appreciation for the older comic strips. Getting the message being conveyed sometimes
requires a knowledge of the events of the era, but for the most part the humor and/or satire comes through even when
you assume it relates to current events. WWI and WWII timeframe comics, for instance, often alluded to the evils of
Fascist governments overseas, while today they may be likened to the deeds of our own government. These
Contest Caper comics
from a 1955 edition
of Air Trails are timeless.
visitor Steve W. requested this short feature on the Parnell Pixie that appeared in the June 1959 edition of
American Modeler. The Parnell Pixie
was born in 1923 in response
to a contest sponsored by the Daily Mail and the Duke of Sutherland designed to stimulate light aircraft development.
Unfortunately, the article only has a short historical perspective and a 3-view line drawing. A Google search will
turn up a few sources for plans for the Parnell Pixie.
While admittedly a bit outdated, these troubleshooting
for R/C airplane problems are useful for teaching problem identification and repair techniques. Even though
most radio controlled model airplanes are purchased ready to fly (RTF) these days, they do manage to crash and need
repair or parts get worn out and need repair. Many RTFs are barely airworthy out of the box and a little time spent
optimizing the setup before the first flight will pay off in much longer life and enjoyment of the model.
lot of people still believed in little green men from Mars and antennaed beings from Venus in the middle of the last
century. For that matter, no planet or star was ruled out as host to intelligent life back in the day. Recall that
it was only two decades earlier (1938) that Orson Welles created a panic with his Halloween broadcast of "The
War of the Worlds
." Some still believed that the "canali" recorded by astronomer
water distribution systems constructed by Martian citizens for distributing water. Venus, though mysteriously shrouded
by clouds, surely hosted a civilization far superior to Earth's. This 1/2A control line model represents what was
a common planform for unidentified flying objects based on "sightings." Most were either cigar or saucer shaped; Venusian
Scout honors the latter...
March 1955 edition of Air Trails
magazine, a mere decade past the end of World War II, did a short feature
on 9 of the Union of Soviet
Socialist Republic (USSR) Air Force's
most important airplanes. Description and role for each model is brief.
Line drawings are provided. You might want to add a little color with a graphics editor and print out the image to
use as a poster.
is a short story about French flying ace
who, after his
country capitulated to the German Wehrmacht, went to England to fly for the Royal Air Force (RAF). His service for
the French resistance was spent downing German Focke-Wulfs, Junkers, and Messerschmitts - 23 confirmed kills, 5 'probables,'
and 30 aircraft damaged. His fabled aircraft was a
, sister craft to
the beautiful Hawker Hurricane. This control line model is designed for a .60 size engine. The article does provide
detailed plans, but no description of the building or flying process.
is the mother of invention, as the old saying goes. Back in the 1950s,
was the necessity of modelers who
were either on a tight budget, did not have access to the plethora of gadgets and devices available these days, or
both. I really enjoy reading about some of the ideas devised by modelers for use on their airplanes. While doing something
like splitting balsa sticks lengthwise to facilitate bending around tight curves - similar to laminating individual
pieces, but on a local level - might seems obvious to a seasoned builder, there are always new people entering the
realm or even old hands exploring a new area of aeromodeling who need to learn new methods. I actually had an idea
printed once in Model Aviation where I suggested saving the small hypodermic dispensers (the
ones with the skinny nozzles)
from tooth whitening applicators for use in injecting epoxy into hinge slots.
visitor Mike S. wrote to request a scan of one page from this article in American Aircraft Modeler that covered
the 40th AMA Nationals
by the U.S. Navy at the Glenview Naval Air Station. Mike knew a couple of the control line guys from the Cincinnati
area whose photos appeared in the article. It must be nice to see someone you recognize (or
in a decades-old magazine. That is one of my reasons for making these articles available. If
you would like a full copy of one of the magazine editions you remember from days of yore, whether it be American
Modeler, American Aircraft Modeler, Flying Models, RC Modeler, Model Airplane News
, etc., there is a good chance
you can buy it on eBay
for about $5...
" is a general purpose control
line stunter with a profile fuselage, a built-up wing, and power provided by a Fox .25 engine. Designed by John D'Ottavio,
it originally went by the name of "Falcon," as evidenced by the lettering on the model flown by Eddie Elasic in the
1961 Air Youth State Competition (AYSC)
held at Willow Grove NAS. He and John combined
talents to come up with the design. It was awarded the honor of "Best 4-Way AYSC Plane." What are the 4 ways? I see
endurance, speed, and stunt, but I'm not sure what the 4th way is - combat, maybe?