My original Top Flite Monokote Sealing Iron, purchased in the mid-1970s, lasted until the late 1990s, when the heating element burned out. A quarter century of use was not too bad. To replace it, I bought a Tower Hobbies iron, and the first time I used it the handle started to bend where it transitions from a hollow round shape to a flat shape. The metal was noticeably softer than the Top Flite handle, which never even hinted at bending. For two decades I have had to be very careful not to press too hard on the iron lest it bend. After many times of bending and straightening the handle, a major stress crack had formed, and it was pretty evident that the handle would not last much longer. I would either need to buy a new Monokote sealing iron, which in all likelihood would be equally cheaply built since Top Flite does not make them anymore, or come up with some kind or repair for this one...
While I never had the pleasure of owning an AAMCo Lou Andrews Aeromaster Too biplane, it was one of the many kits I though someday I would build. After 61 years of existence, there still is no Aeromaster Too kit in my collection, and at this point likely never will be. The Aeromaster Too was a four-channel ("full-house" as it was known back in the day) aerobatic biplane with a 48" wingspan for .45 to .61 in3 displacement glow fuel engines. It used balsa, plywood, and hardwood construction along with music wire components for the landing gear and cabane struts. The photos presented here were downloaded from multiple Aeromaster Too kits listed on eBay. They typically sell in the $125 to $200 price range, which is very comparable to what a new kit of similar size and complexity would sell for today...
"It takes a lot of fuel to launch something into space. Sending NASA's Space Shuttle into orbit required more than 3.5 million pounds of fuel, which is about 15 times heavier than a blue whale. But a new type of engine called a rotating detonation engine promises to make rockets not only more fuel-efficient but also more lightweight and less complicated to construct. There's just one problem: Right now this engine is too unpredictable to be used in an actual rocket. Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a mathematical model that describes how these engines work. With this information, engineers can, for the first time, develop tests to improve these engines..."
Some of my favorite YouTube aeromodeling videos are converted from movies of vintage contesting events. This "Marvelous Miniatures" documentary is a prime example for showing the state of aircraft modeling in the 1970s, when I got into radio control (R/C). See Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) President John Worth at the Toledo show, soaring at Torrey Pines, Maxy Hester and his famous Ryan STA, techno-modeler Maynard Hill, digital proportional R/C system pioneer Phil Craft, along with many other "unknowns" are shown doing their thing. Something that always stands out in these vintage films is how devoid of residential and commercial development the surrounding areas are.
"Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We'll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. These videos show some highlights from the Lake Kivu Drone Challenge, which took place in Rwanda, earlier this month. In addition to a conference and forum, international teams and their drones competed in emergency delivery, sample pick-up, and find and assess tasks."
AOPA's government affairs team had the chance to catch up with U.S. Representative Sam Graves, a longtime general aviation pilot, advocate, and AOPA member, about his aviation background and GA [General Aviation] issues that he is working on in Congress. "You've flown a lot of different airplanes over the years, but which is your favorite? Honestly, I don't have a particular all-time favorite. I own a 1947 PA–11 Piper Cub Special, and I'm a part-owner of a T–6 Texan and Vultee BT–13. I'm also working on restoring a 1943 Beech AT–10. It's hard to beat the P–40 or P–51, but whichever plane I'm flying at the moment—that's my favorite. You have established yourself as an effective leader and key advocate for transportation and certainly for general aviation while in Congress. You serve as the top Republican on the powerful House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Please tell us a little about yourself, your career, and your passion for flying..."
Axiom Test Equipment, an electronic test equipment rentals and sales company headquartered in North County San Diego, has published a blog post entitled "Keep UAVs Flying High with Proper Testing." This blog is the first in a series of four planned articles that will take a closer look at the global fascination with UAVs and how they are used, whether for farming or for warfare, and some of the best test tools that can be applied to ensuring the best UAV performance possible. "Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), popularly known as drones, have been a part of military operations for decades, often paving the way for an operation with their remote intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance (ISR) capabilities. Those familiar with military drones may think of million-dollar UAVs like the Predator with comprehensive electronic weapons payloads, including radar and sophisticated navigation and guidance systems. The military demand for fixed- and rotary-wing UAVs has grown steadily over the past decade...
By 1946, nobody had ever even launched an unmanned rocket into outer space, much less a manned one. Nevertheless, plenty of people were working toward it. With World War II having been over for a year and much of the technology developed being applied toward future wars and societal advancement, the dream of exploiting a presence in orbit around the earth was hotly pursued. The world's superpowers were engaged in a race into space both for prestige and military advantage. As is the case today, countries pretended to get along well enough to cooperate on shared goals, but we all know behind the scenes scheming was going on about how to apply lessons learned to the disadvantage of "them" and to the benefit of "us." It is a survival of the fittest scenario. Unfortunately, when you cannot trust "them" to not do the same to "us," offensive and defensive plans are required - it has always been so and probably always will be ...but, I digress. This article by Will Ley delves into some of the then-anticipated issues...
This article from the January 2020 issue of Air & Space magazine explains why you remain conscious at 30,000 feet. "We humans need air to breathe, so we do best around sea level. Airplanes are at their best up high, where the air is thin and smooth. And therein lies the rub: We invented a machine that thrives where we don't. This became obvious as soon as engine power increased to a point at which aviators could reach altitudes where they lost consciousness. At first, fliers coped by filling tanks with pressurized oxygen and inhaling the gas through rubber tubes; later, form-fitting face masks made oxygen delivery more reliable. In many high-flying light airplanes and military aircraft, oxygen systems and face masks..."
"The plane looks more like an air force jet, but it could make flying much more efficient. One big difference between land-based vehicles and aircraft is that there's been much less innovation for airplanes in the last few decades than there has been for cars. Aerospace company, Airbus, is looking to change that. Their MAVERIC is not set to fly in the skies anytime soon, but the prospects certainly look promising, and more efficient than current airplane models. You may have noticed that most aircraft have a similar design: a single or double aisle long fuselage that has wings attached on either side. There are exceptions, of course, namely when it comes to military aircraft..."
According to UK National Archives: "6,725 [V−1s] were launched at Britain. Of these, 2,340 hit London, causing 5,475 deaths, with 16,000 injured." Re the map: "This patch of English woodland near the village of Bromley Green, about eight miles from the Channel shore, was once a smoking crater. A V−1 flying bomb - fired by Germany's Luftwaffe at London but shot down minutes before getting there - crashed and exploded here around eight o'clock in the morning on August 27, 1944, gouging a hole in the earth 10 feet deep and 20 feet across. The blast of its warhead and fuel lifted the nearest house, more than 600 feet away, off its foundations. Seventy-five years later, to the exact day, the old crater is the site of an archaeological investigation led by two brothers who grew up hearing stories of the terror wrought by Germany's V−1s. Colin and Sean Welch have searched for fragments of the flying bombs over the past 10 years..."
The U.S. Army Air Corps' BC−1 low-wing monoplane was North American Aviation's first trainer aircraft (company designation was NA−16). The "BC" part of the designation stands for "Basic Combat," so the Army intended to use the BC−1 on missions. If you think it looks a lot like the AT−6 Texan trainer, it is because the AT−6 evolved from the NA−16. In fact, the Wikipedia entries give April 1, 1935 as the date of maiden flight for both of them. 17,000 variations were built from 1935 through 1939. This construction article and plans appeared in the May 1941 issue of Flying Aces magazine. Wingspan is about 20", making it a rather small model. Standard stick and tissue methods are used, and a pattern is provided for carving your own propeller...
From 1955 to 1961, the TWA-sponsored "Rocket to the Moon" was the E-ticket attraction of Tomorrowland, the neighborhood of the Disneyland theme park modeled after a speculative utopian future. (© Disney) Cox Control Line Demonstration Circle. Eric Boehm, in the "Letters" section of the January 2020 issue of Air& Space magazine, submitted the following comment: "'My Trips to the Moon' (Sept. 2019) and the accommodating photos really caught my eye, and not because of the big TWA rocket. the fenced-off area in the foreground was the Disney Flying Circle. Between 1955 and 1966, daily demonstrations were conducted using control-line model airplanes and gas-powered tether cars. The photo shows a man in the center with both hands raised. He may be flying two models at once, which was a regular display feature. There was one employee named Bart Klapinski who could fly three airplanes simultaneously: One control handle in each hand and a third in his mouth.
"Reilly's latest undertaking might be his most challenging: a North American XP-82, the second prototype - but the first to fly - of the U.S. Army Air Corps' Twin Mustang. Invented by German-born aircraft designer Edgar Schmued and green-lit by the U.S. Army Air Forces' General Hap Arnold in 1943, the Twin Mustang is unique: It mates two North American P-51 fuselages with a common center wing and a horizontal stabilizer. Schmued's double aircraft could accommodate a two-man crew, which would lighten workload and reduce pilot fatigue - a necessity for the airplane's expected long-range missions. In February 1947, Colonel Robert E. Thacker flew a P-82B nonstop from Hawaii to New York without refueling. The 5,051-mile flight is the longest nonstop flight ever made by a propeller-driven fighter..."
There is no doubt that Du−Bro set the stage for commercially produced radio controlled (R/C) helicopters with the Whirlybird 500. Its use of a top-mounted engine that relied on counter-torque to set the main rotor blades spinning was unique. There were a few published articles on homebrew free-flight helicopters that used the arrangement, and Cox even marketed a ready-to-fly model that had a Cox .020 engine mounted on top called the Sky Copter (I owned one as a kid in the late 1960s). To my knowledge all other R/C helicopter models used a gear or belt drive from the engine to the main rotor shaft. It is amazing that this quite top-heavy configuration flew at all. Du−Bro engineers deserve a lot of credit. Note extensive use of common Du−Bro products like wheel collars, pushrods and clevises, strip aileron hookups, brass tubing, and nuts, bolts and screws. A lot of assembly work was involved, including a good bit of soldering...
"Inspired by insects and small birds, this wing design offers a massive endurance boost for micro aerial vehicles. Drones of all sorts are getting smaller and cheaper, and that's great - it makes them more accessible to everyone, and opens up new use cases for which big expensive drones would be, you know, too big and expensive. The problem with very small drones, particularly those with fixed-wing designs, is that they tend to be inefficient fliers, and are very susceptible to wind gusts as well as air turbulence caused by objects that they might be flying close to. Unfortunately, designing for resilience and designing for efficiency are two different things..."
Every single airport on Earth will be featured in Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. "This is an impressive feat considering there are a total of 37,000 airports worldwide. Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, the impressive game unveiled at E3 last year, will feature every single airport on Earth. Yes! You read that correctly: every single one. Developer Asobo Studio has put in an amazing amount of work into this game that is hyper-realistic, and now they are offering players the chance to fly anywhere on the planet. If that's not something to get excited about, then I don't know what is. To be clear, there are 37,000 airports on Earth and all these were manually designed in the game to look just like their real-world counterparts. In addition, the 80 most frequented airports will be given extra attention to detail...
Sig's Mike Getz Memorial Fly-In is scheduled for June 12-14, at Hazel Sig's airport 2 miles south of Montezuma, Iowa. Sig doesn't give much information on their website, so you might want to check on the AMA's events page. I try to buy from Sig as much as possible for nostalgic reasons (dating back to the early 1970s), but honestly, their website is not done very well - slow, clunky and not inspirational.
When I was a teenager living in Holly Hill Harbor, Maryland, a man down the road from me was an avid R/C modeler and had a carport chock full of airplanes, engines, radio systems, and assorted modeling tools and accessories. I've mentioned him before; I bought my 3-channel OS Digitron DP-3 radio system from him for a cool $100 (earned from my paper route and cutting grass). He was kind enough to give my flying buddy, Jerry Flynn, and me a couple pieces of his excess inventory. A broken but repairable Andrews MiniMaster was handed to me one day, which was a real thrill for me in the day. I fixed what needed fixing and installed my 3-channel radio in it. Although the MiniMaster is a full house (4-channel) ship...
The Andrews Aircraft Model Company (AAMCo) produced a radio control airplane, the H−Ray, that was my first successful RC model. An advertisement from a 1964 edition of RC Modeler includes both the H-Ray (high wing) and the S−Ray (shoulder wing). I'm pretty sure that I put an OS .20 R/C engine in it - probably the only one I had at the time. Advertisement for the OS Digital 3-channel radio control system I bought second-hand from a man down the street from where I lived as a teenager. I paid him $100 for it sometime around 1974 or so. That is the equivalent of $532 in 2020 dollars according to the BLS's Inflation Calculator. My second-hand OS Digital 3-channel radio control system was installed in it, which is why I can still vividly remember running after it with the transmitter held high above my head trying to regain control after it ran out of range. My H-Ray spent a night in a corn field out at the original PGRC club in along Route 301 in southern Maryland because of it. The range with that OS digital system was about 600 feet under ideal conditions...
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Skyroads Newspaper Comics Archive
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Apollo 11 on Washington Monument
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"BAE Systems' new plane has the potential to fly without landing for a year, and can maintain its position over a specific point for monitoring purposes. At 35 meters, the wingspan of the new BAE Systems aircraft equals that of a Boeing 737, yet the plane weighs in at just 150 kilograms, including a 15 kg payload. The unmanned plane, dubbed the PHASA-35 (Persistent High-Altitude Solar Aircraft), made its maiden voyage on 10 February at the Royal Australian Air Force Woomera Test Range in South Australia. 'It flew for just under an hour - enough time to successfully test its aerodynamics, autopilot system, and maneuverability,' says Phil Varty, business development leader of emerging products at BAE Systems. 'We'd previously tested..."
"Facing immense challenges, the agency bulls ahead with its Space Launch System. From a test-stand catwalk almost 300 feet above the ground at NASA's Stennis Space Center in southern Mississippi, Maury Vander and I take in a view of the 14,000-acre rocket propulsion test complex, its 200-square-mile acoustical buffer zone, and distant New Orleans. Vander, who started at Stennis in 1989 after graduating from the University of New Orleans with a degree in mechanical engineering, is the chief of test operations for the approaching Green Run, a long-awaited test that will certify for flight the core of a rocket that has been in development for a decade..."
"Robert 'Hoot' Gibson's priorities: (1) Fly. (2) Fly some more. An hour before the doors of the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center opened to visitors, the vast, multi-level space was filled with a theatrical pre-curtain hush. Only a few docents were here, getting reacquainted with the 170-some air- and spacecraft on display, machines that had made some of the most important history of the last hundred years. The docents were there to tell their stories. So was the man I'd traveled to Chantilly, Virginia, to meet: Robert 'Hoot' Gibson. Hoot (the nickname originated with cowboy movie star Edmund 'Hoot' Gibson) knew many of these flying machines personally. From light piston aircraft to thundering World War II fighters to supersonic jets to the space shuttle, Gibson had flown them - 111 types so far..."
"The Army and Navy, under supervision of the Missile Defense Agency, jointly tested a hypersonic glide body at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii this week, according to the Department of Defense. According to the Pentagon, the MDA monitored and gathered tracking data from the flight experiment that will inform its ongoing development of systems designed to defend against adversary hypersonic systems. The experiment - and future tests like it - is intended to inform the DoD's goal of fielding hypersonic capabilities within the next few years. Hypersonic weapons can fly at speeds greater than five times the speed of sound..."
"UPS Flight Forward, a subsidiary of the logistics company, has partnered up with Wingcopter, a German drone-making startup to create a fleet of multipurpose delivery drones in the U.S. and globally. UPS selected Wingcopter as its partner given the company's impressive unmanned aircraft technology and great track record of delivering goods over long distances to remote places. 'Our collaboration with Wingcopter helps pave the way for us to start drone delivery service in new use-cases. UPS Flight Forward is building a network of technology partners to broaden our unique capability to serve customers and extend our leadership in drone delivery,' said Bala Ganesh, vice president of the UPS Advanced Technology Group..."
"The massive Antonov AN-225 cargo airplane is up in the air after a long stint on the ground. Aviation enthusiasts will be delighted to hear the news that the world's largest cargo airplane to ever grace our skies is back. The Antonov AN-225 was tracked by Flightradar24 on Wednesday as it flew out of its hub at Antonov Airport in Kiev, Ukraine. After 18 months on the ground without so much as a peep by the airline in the meantime, the AN-225 took off and flew over rural areas for two hours, before landing back down. After the monstrous AN-225 became grounded in October 2018 as part of its maintenance and upgrade program, no further information on its improvements..."