About Airplanes & Rockets

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. There is a lot of good information and there are lot of pictures throughout the website that you will probably find useful, and might even bring back some old memories from your own days of yore. The website began life around 1996 as an EarthLink screen name of ModelAirplanes, and quickly grew to where more server space ...

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Copyright 1996 - 2022
Webmaster:
Kirt Blattenberger
BSEE - KB3UON
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Modeling Resources

Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) - Airplanes and Rockets
Academy of Model Aeronautics

Tower Hobbies logo - Airplanes and Rockets
Tower Hobbies

Horizon Hobby logo - Airplanes and Rockets
Horizon Hobby

Brodak Manufacturing - Airplanes and Rockets
Brodak Mfg.

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Estes Altiscope / AltiTrak

Estes Altiscope - Airplanes and RocketsThis is the vintage Estes AltiTrak. The one I had back in the 1970s was made of wood that went by the name Altiscope (see thumbnail). The AltiTrak one is a newer incarnation made of plastic and is held like a pistol.

Both models work on the right triangle completion principle. You stand off a predetermined distance from where you expect the rocket to be at apogee (its high point of flight), and then follow it up with your instrument. At the highest point, you lock the angle indicator on the protractor. You can see the concept in the picture to the left (click for a larger version).

The base of the right angle angle is the side adjacent to the measured angle (θ), which makes the vertical line to the apogee the side opposite the measured angle. Since the tangent of an angle is equal to the quotient of the side opposite divided by the side adjacent (which you determined at the beginning), that leaves the altitude being:

Altitude = Base * tan (θ)


Now, when I was a teenager trying to use my Altiscope, I didn't know a tangent from a schmangent. Fortunately, Estes provided a table of values. Yes, teachers had attempted to learn me about trigonometry, but I wasn't having any of it.


Estes AltiscopeEstes Altiscope