Imagine if your path to flying an R/C helicopter
involved first designing, then building, and then troubleshooting the contraption.
That was the burden of pioneers. We have people like
S.S.P. Helicopter designer
Gene Rock to thank for being able to enjoy the state-of-the-art models that are
available today. This article from the August 1972 edition of American Aircraft
Modeler magazine describes the process of machining all the metal parts for
an Enya .45-powered craft. Mr. Rock even designed a very successful mechanical gyro
for keeping the tail under control. If you have ever tried flying an R/C heli without
any type of gyro (I have, on a DuBro Tristar), you will fully appreciate what a
pleasure it is to not have to manually counter torque changes (throttle) with tail
rotor stick input from the transmitter. Around 2008 I bought a Blade MCX2 coaxial
rotor helicopter for flying inside, and the gyro is so good on that thing that you
can put it in a full speed pirouette...
As I have written many times, the lack of
proportional representation of
girls in the model airplane realm is not because when they do show up, no attention
is paid to them. In fact it is just the opposite. Go to any flying field of any
type - R/C, C/L, or F/F, and watch what happens when a girl shows up with a model
if you doubt it. In 1960 and in 2022, and all the years in between, the fairer sex
is sought out and highlighted by model aviation magazines. They are never exploited,
ignored, or criticized - just the opposite. You can be sure that any female model
builder/flyer and/or contest official receives due attention and credit. The 1959
Academy of Model Aeronautics Nationals (Nats) is a prime example of that which I
claim to be so. Many other examples can be found in the articles posted here on
the AirplanesAndRockets.com website...
"We celebrate National Aviation Day with
a look at the world's first successful commercial passenger transport airplane.
Douglas Aircraft Company was a pioneer in early aviation and produced a number
of different aircraft. However, it is best known for its DC−3, among the most important
aircraft ever built. In Part 1 of this two-part series, the genesis of Douglas Aircraft
and the DC−1 and DC−2 were profiled. The DC−2 Started the Revolution As recounted
in Part 1, the DC−1 and DC−2 were developed after a request by Transcontinental
and Western Airlines (TWA). What was then United Airlines was TWA's rival in transcontinental
air service, using the Boeing 247. Because Boeing (then named United Aircraft and
Transport Corporation) also owned United, TWA sought an aircraft that would allow
it to compete. Douglas and his talented team designed and built the DC−1 in 1932-33..."
Air Trails HOBBIES for Young Men magazine,
which was published in the 1950s and 1960s, covered a wide array of subjects including
model cars, boats, trains, rockets, and helicopters. It may have billed itself as
targeting young men, but men of all ages enjoyed its monthly contents. The December
1945 edition had this spread on some early cars such as the
Silver Arrow and 1922 Durant. The image of line drawings and brief descriptions
would also make a good wall poster if you want to print it out. If you are a vintage
car aficionado, then most likely you have visited the Jay Leno's Garage website.
He has one of the nicest private collections of antique automobiles and motorcycles
in the world...
On May 10, 2012, Melanie and I visited the
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center,
part of the National Air and Space Museum, in Chantilly, Virginia. It is the first
time we have ever been there, although we have been to the main museum in Washington,
D.C., two or three times. The collection of airplanes, helicopters, rockets, spacecraft,
and associated engines and paraphernalia is utterly amazing. Unfortunately, we only
had two hours to take in the entire experience, so we rushed around taking pictures
and reading as many of the placards as possible in that time. It is at the same
time both heartening discouraging to see the names of wartime manufacturing companies
that no longer exist due to consolidation or the exporting of work to other countries
- even enemies like Red China...
According to this 1960 Air Trails magazine
Line Combat" article, the contest event first appeared in the AMA (Academy of
Model Aeronautics) rulebook in 1950. Hard to believe that was 72 years ago as of
this writing. Control line combat remains a very popular sport today, and is one
of the relatively few aspects of the hobby which has not changed considerably. Engines
have gotten more powerful and reliable, and building materials have improved, but
the basic outline of the airframe is about the same. The story reports on combat
rounds having up to five planes flying at once, duking it out for air superiority.
Too bad there's not a video of it with all the flyers trying desperately to not
become entangled in each other's lines or even keeping out of each other's way.
There must have been a lot of smashed balsa after that event. Anyway, this article
provides a lot of detail concerning all aspects of model construction, engine and
fuel tank setup, and flying. Interesting fact: In the early days of control line
combat, prolonged inverted flight was permitted...
230 S Smart R/C Helicopter had an unfortunate meeting with my foot. The result
of my stupidity is broken fuselage frame, blade holders, and a bent tail boom. That
appears to be the extent of the damage. I could buy the parts to restore and fly
it again, but I'm not that interested at this point. Prior to the Big Foot incident,
I had about 50 flights, all in the Stability mode, so it has not been subject to
strenuous conditions. Instead, I am offering all the components shown here for a
total of just $175 (+shipping). The BNF version of the Blade 230 S helicopter
(which this is, purchased from Horizon Hobby in March of 2022) currently costs $249.99
- although as of this writing they are on backorder. There are well over $300 worth
of parts here (including spares) that would make a good investment for excusing
your own mishaps...
flight simulator software (MS Flight Sim 2002) and computer it runs on (HP i7 notebook)
are each more powerful than the software and computer that ran the
Douglas DC-8 pilot training simulator featured in this 1958 article in Popular
Electronics magazine. Two racks of 1000+ vacuum tubes did the figurative
electronic heavy lifting while massive DC motors did the literal physical cockpit
heavy lifting. The computer needed to handle as many as 40 variables at one time,
including 6 differential equations of motion. 100 servomotors, 540 amplifiers and
2,200 gears drove the instrument panel gauges, dials, and movie projector mechanisms.
The instrument panel description conjures images of the inside of a modern office-grade
copying machine with its very dense conglomeration of gears and axels...
Modern day scale models are amazingly detailed
with functional miniature instruments, control yokes and joysticks moving in unison
with stabilizer, rudder, ailerons, throttle, and others. Access to relatively inexpensive
3-D printing, laser printers, and laser cutters has greatly enabled scale modelers.
The state of the art has advanced for far that competition is extremely stiff. Even
so, in the 1960's when this "Cockpit
Details for the Scale Model" article appeared in Air Trails magazine,
the skill level was quite impressive given the resources available at the time.
This particular subject is an instrument panel for a Piper J3 Cub, but photos from
scale contents of the era showed highly detailed cockpits for civilian and military
"Sustainable air travel has made big progress
over the last two years. Many airlines and carriers have exploited the opportunity
afforded by the drop in passenger numbers to scrap older, less economic and less
efficient planes. Planes spew out carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxides (NOx),
which also helps form ozone in the upper troposphere. They also emit particulates
and leave water-vapor trails (contrails), both of which trap heat. Sustainable air
travel has made big progress over the last two years. With airlines and plane manufacturers
keen to improve their environmental credentials, one simple solution is to power
aircraft with bio-fuel, known as
sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in the trade. Existing aircraft can use jet
fuel mixed with 50% SAF without needing to be modified in any way. Doing so can
slash emissions by up to 80% compared to ordinary jet fuel, with Rolls-Royce and
Boeing having already carried out test flights..."
Sometime in the 1970s, a radically new model
airplane building tool appeared in R/C Modeler, American Aircraft Modeler, and other
model aviation magazines - the "A-justo-jig."
It was pitched as the answer to all the many misaligned wings and fuselages that
were preventing everyone from being a world class radio control and/or control line
pattern flyer and/or scale master. Undoubtedly, use of a jig to align and hold in
place ribs, leading and trailing edges, fuselage side and formers, etc., did/does
result in a more perfect model airframes; however, in the many hundreds of model
aircraft building articles I have seen in magazines, to my recollection not one
featured an A-justo-jig. Many showed custom jigs designed by builders, but none
in a commercial jig. Sometime in the 1990's Great Planes introduced a Precision
There is currently a big shift from internal
combustion engines to electric motors for powering model vehicles of all sorts -
airplanes, helicopters, boats, and cars - and of all control modes - autonomous
(free flight), radio control, and control-line. The state of motor and battery technology
has passed the point where the weight and thrust available with electric power meets
or exceeds that of engines for most applications. I'm throwing this idea out to
companies like Winged Shadow Systems, who make some ingenuous peripheral products
like the How High altimeter and the Thermal Scout thermal detector, and the Sky
Limit altitude/time limit motor cutoffs. Surely those guys can design and affordably
market a dynamic, attitude-aware motor control for electric-powered control line
airplanes. I provide here a basic outline of the concept, what I title "A
Programmable Dynamic Attitude-Aware Motor Speed Control for Electric-Powered Aircraft©."
While its indented initial application is for control line aircraft, it is possible
to extend the usage to free flight and other modes of flight...
Plastic model kits were rare in 1939. For
that matter plastic "anything" was rare at the time. It was not until after World
War II that injection molded plastic was commonly found in commercial and household
items. Accordingly, the majority of small static display models were carved from
balsa, basswood, pine, or other soft woods with straight grain and no knots. Many
craftsmen honed their skills carving, sanding, painting, and detailing solid models
such as this
167 bomber which appeared in the December 1939 issue of Flying Aces
magazine. Boats, ships, cars, trains, trucks, and other types of vehicles and equipment
was commonly modeled, for both military and civilian varieties. In one of the vintage
modeling magazines - possibly Flying Aces - there was a photo of a guy
with his extensive model of a circus, including tents, beasts, human performers,
transport trucks and trailers. Different strokes for different folks, as the saying
It's hard to believe 1961 was over half a
century ago (62 years to be more precise). That is when this "NARAM," the
Association of Rocketry Annual Meet, took place in Denver, Colorado. As with
the U.S. Navy's involvement in 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, headquartered
at Ellington AFB, Texas, at the time). 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. The contest has held at the Hogback Rocket Range near Denver, which was
close to Lowry Air Force Base (now closed) and the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado
"NASA has announced a conceptual mission
architecture for the Mars Sample Return (MSR) program, and it's a pleasant surprise.
The goal of the proposed program is to return the rock samples that the Perseverance
rover is currently collecting on the Martian surface to Earth, which, as you can
imagine, is not a simple process. It'll involve sending a sample-return lander (SRL)
to Mars, getting those samples back to the lander, launching a rocket back to Mars
orbit from the lander, and finally capturing that rocket with an orbiter that'll
cart the samples back to Earth. As you might expect, the initial idea was to send
a dedicated rover to go grab the sample tubes from wherever Perseverance had cached
them and bring them back to the lander with the rocket, because how else are you
going to go get them, right? If Perseverance can’t make it, is to collect the samples
with two helicopters
Here is another sailplane that, like the
Aquila, really appealed to me back when I first saw it in the August 1974 edition
of American Aircraft Modeler magazine. The
Astro−Jeff's 12'−7" (151") wingspan
and 1370 sq. in. of wing area, was too much for my 16-year-old wallet. The cost
to build and cover it, and then the launch system needed was way more than what
I was accustomed to paying compared to my Standard Hi-Start and 72" and 99" gliders
(the 2−meter class hadn't been created yet). I had forgotten about the Astro−Jeff
until a few years ago when I ran across a re-kitting of it by Mr. Jim Ealy of Vintage
Sailplaner. He offers a short and full kit of the Astro−Jeff with a fiberglass fuselage.
Maybe now that I have a lot more money (don't I wish), someday I probably will finally
build one of my own...
Although this solicitation for membership
Aces Club appeared in a 1939 issue of Flying Aces magazine, it might
as aptly show up in the next edition of the AMA Model Aviation magazine,
for the Flying Aces Club is still in existence lo these 83 years hence. The wording
would be a little different - especially the list of Honorary Member names almost
none of which today many people would recognize - but the theme hasn't changed.
I took the time to look up and hyperlink to biographies of everyone in the list.
Having been born in 1950 and being a life-long aviation aficionado, I am familiar
with probably half the people. You will see a lot of aircraft designer names in
there. One notable absence is Charles A. Lindberg, which makes me wonder if the
"Honorary" title is bestowed upon certain people whether or not they are aware of
it and accept the honor. In fact, I'm pretty sue Mr. Lindberg was an active model
builder and flyer, and was a regular member of the Flying Aces Club...
were nothing more than the electromechanical equivalents of rubber band-powered
escapement. Rather than energizing a solenoid that would allow the rubber band to
turn the control arm, the pulse signal from the receiver would set a motor in motion,
and then limit switches would stop it once the predetermined position was reached.
They had a number of advantages over rubber-powered escapements in that the power
delivered to the control surface was not diminished with every actuation (except
from some negligible energy drain from the batteries), they were able to deliver
a lot more power, and they took up less real estate inside the fuselage. It was
a first step toward today's proportional servos. This 1955 issue of Popular
Electronics magazines shows the state of the art in the day...
Even while electric propulsion systems are
gaining ground in the modeling realm,
2- and 4-cylinder
engines are still quite popular amongst modelers. I have made a switchover totally
to electric, but I sure miss the sound and smell of the nitro engines. For those
who still use internal combustion engines, and for those who just want to learn
a little more about how these model engines work, this article by Glenn Lee in the
February 1968 issue of American Aircraft Modeler magazine will be a very
Crash Carringer was one of Arch Whitehouse's
later ace pilot characters. Officially an aircraft salesman for Hale Aircraft Corporation
on Long Island, New York. However, in his efforts to prove the superiority of his
prized Hellion monoplane fighter with a twin tail boom configuration, he often ended
up fighting and winning dogfights against evil worldwide crime organizations who
were often in league with governments of notorious for desiring to rule the Earth.
World War I had been over for nearly two decades and World War II was
newly on the table following Hitler's and Hirohito's invasions in Europe and Asia,
respectively. Accordingly, those two countries played prominently in the stories.
As with most of these sorts of stories in Flying Aces magazine, they were quite
long, filling eight to ten full pages...