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 ...

1996 - 2026

Kirt Blattenberger
Family Websites:
RF Cafe | Equine Kingdom

All trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other rights of ownership to images and text used on the Airplanes and Rockets website are hereby acknowledged.

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- Welcome to the Airplanes & Rockets Website -

"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." Lord Kelvin, 1895


Model Aviation & Aerospace Headline News

Tech Industry Headlines - RF Cafe- Archives -

• Chinese Astronauts Complete 1st Spacewalk at New Space Station

• Drone Use in Today's Society

• Electric Vehicles Are Booming in 2021

• Virgin Galactic Completes 1st Fully-Crewed Spaceflight

• Trailblazing Woman Pilot, 82, to Fly into Space with Bezos

• Pilots Protest Belarus Military Hijacking of Ryanair Flight 4978

• Triple Tree Aerodrome Event on for September 2021

• Drone Chases down Border Patrol Chopper

• AOPA Awards $1.1M to 2021 Scholarship Winners

Comet Sabre 44 Ready-to-Fly C/L Model

Comet Sabre 44 Ready-to-Fly C/L Model, January 1955 Model Airplane News - Airplanes and RocketsThis full-page advertisement for Comet's Sabre 44 control line "gas" model appeared in the January 1955 issue of Model Airplane News. Ready-to-fly "gas" models were just entering the market at the time. The "All Plastic" model preceded Cox's popular line of ready-to-fly plastic control line models. Whereas the Cox models used their own line of .049 and .020 glow fuel engines, Comet used the 1/2A-Herkimer 049B engine. The $9.95 price tag in 1995 is the equivalent of $101.25 today, which is really about what such a model with engine would cost now if anyone made such a product (which they don't)...

Scale-Like Curtiss P-40 Stunter

Scale-Like Curtiss P-40 Stunter Article & Plans, March/April 1963 American Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsHere are the plans and article for Charles Parrott's semi-scale Curtiss P-40 Warhawk control line stunt model as they appeared in a 1963 issue of American Modeler magazine. It sports a 38" wingspan and is powered by an inverted-mounted Fox .35 Stunt engine fed by a modified Veco 3.5 ounce fuel tank. There was an effort in the era to have competition stunt models resemble real-life airplanes, even though exaggeration of fuselage, wing, and tail surfaces were required to facilitate stunting. As is evidenced by today's top control line stunt models, the fad gave way to structures designed specifically for accommodating the needs of flight. Even full-size aircraft design moves in that direction over time, where traditional features and methods give way to modern technology and materials. Compare the look of a production composite frame general aviation airplane from Diamond Aircraft or Cirrus Aircraft...

Ghostships of the Air

Ghostships of the Air - Airplanes and Rockets"A photographer takes us on a spooky tour of abandoned aircraft. We can't help being tantalized by the sight of derelict airplanes. Their mere presence represents a mystery, a backstory of abandonment we yearn to hear. Award-winning Russian photographer Dmitry Osadchy knows that well, and uses his drone cameras to take us on a world tour of aviation's ghostships. Some of the airplanes rest alone in barren landscapes, like the F104 Starfighter pictured above, on an abandoned airfield near Crete. Others are clustered together in mass graves. Either way, they all possess a strange, forlorn beauty. Here's a selection of Osadchy's imagery..."

"The Langley" Mulvihill Winner  

 "The Langley" Mulvihill Winner, July 1962 American Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsAirplanes and Rockets website visitor Peter W. wrote to ask that I scan and post this "'The Langely' Mulvihill Winner" article that appeared in the July 1962 issue of American Modeler magazine. Designer and flyer Frank Parmenter wrote the article. Per the Academy of Model Aeronautics website on the history of the Mulvihill free flight competitions: "Major Bernard Mulvihill, born June 8, 1890, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was a full-scale and model aviation enthusiast at the beginning of the era of flight. In the model aviation world, Mulvihill was a member of the Aero Club of America and served as president of the local Aero Club of Pittsburgh. He helped the Pittsburgh club negotiate permission to fly at the nearby Government Aerial Field. Mulvihill saw the value in encouraging youth to build models...

Nothing Can Keep This Drone Down

Nothing Can Keep This Drone Down - Airplanes and Rockets ""It uses elytra, a beetle-inspired set of wings, to self-right itself. When life knocks you down, you've got to get back up. Ladybugs take this advice seriously in the most literal sense. If caught on their backs, the insects are able to use their tough exterior wings, called elytra (of late made famous in the game Minecraft), to self-right themselves in just a fraction of a second. Inspired by this approach, researchers have created self-righting drones with artificial elytra. Simulations and experiments show that the artificial elytra can not only help salvage fixed-wing drones from compromising positions, but also improve the aerodynamics of the vehicles during flight. The results are described..."

Pietenpol Air Camper

Pietenpol Air Camper, March 1961 American Modeler Magazine - Airplanes and RocketsWhile not specifically drawn as plans for building a model of the Pietenpol Air Camper, all the detail and dimensions necessary for scaling to any size is possible using these sketches which appeared in the March 1961 issue of American Modeler magazine. The "Piet" has been as popular a subject for modeling as is was and still is for building full-size aircraft. Originally designed in 1930 by Bernard Pietenpol, the craft borrowed many of its metal parts from Ford automobiles, including the engine and suspension spring for a tail skid. Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Company still sells Sitka spruce wood kits for the full-size Pietenpol Air Camper; the total as of this writing is less than $4,000. You can be sure the information contained in this article is trustworthy because it was authored by Mr. Pietenpol himself!

Ray Models "Ray-Jets"

Ray Models Advertisement, November 1946 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsThis Ray-Jets advertisement appeared in the November 1946 issue of Air Trails magazine. The name is unfamiliar to me. The company claims to have the first jet-propelled models, which use their brand of "Rocket Units" that use "no fire," "no chemicals," and are "absolutely harmless." It was obviously not some form of the Jetex rocket engine since they did not enter the marketplace until 1958. According to the Model-Plans.co.uk.com website, which has good info on the Ray Models kits, the "Rocket Unit" was a CO2 cartridge that get punctured at launch. The Jetex.org website has a mention of the Ray Jet−Racer, describing the launch method, and another page on CO2-powered jet models. On rare occasion one of the Ray Models kits will appear on eBay...

Drug Cartels Terrorize Enemies with Weaponized Drones

Drug Cartels Terrorize Enemies with Weaponized Drones - Airplanes and RocketsHere is a big part of the reason the FAA is punishing R/C hobbyists with draconian rules and regulations. Thank a druggie near you. "Drug cartels attack enemies and spread terror with weaponized drones in U.S. Mexican police were clearing blockades placed by organized crime groups in El Aguaje, a western Mexico town that has become a battleground for drug cartels. Suddenly, authorities said, a drone flew over, dropping a gunpowder bomb and wounding two members of the Michoacán state police force in the arms and legs..."

Matchbox Fliers

Matchbox Fliers Article & Plans, April 1962, American Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsIt 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, which appeared in the April 1962 issue of American Modeler magazine, to at least single-channel R/C using one of the nano-size radio systems available today. Heck, there's probably a way to even mount a camera to a model this small these days...

Miss Max Free Flight Plans

Miss Max Article & Plans, July 1961 American Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsPlans with minimum instructions for the Miss Max free flight model were published the July 1961 issue of American Modeler magazine. Bryant A. Thompson (AMA 2697 - USAF Team Member), of Wichita Fall, Texas, placed third in the Open Clipper event at the 1960 Dallas Nationals using his Miss Max cargo design. It lifted 40−½ ounces. The "300" ½A Free Flight and Clipper Cargo versions are both shown in the plans. Scaling factors for "300" (Class ½A), "450" (Class A), and "900" (Class B) model sizes are provided. A Cox Pee Wee .020 is drawn on the plans for the Cargo Clipper version. In the top view, note that the wing is shown "flattened" (without polyhedral). "Flat span" dimensions are what appear in the table.

Duro-Matic McCoy Red Head Advertisement

Duro-Matic McCoy Red Head Advertisement, November 1946 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsIf you didn't know that the famous McCoy Red Head engine was made by a firm named Duro-Matic Products Company, you're not alone. Duro-Matic made a lot of models and accessories in its early days, including tethered model cars, engines for airplanes, boats and cars. According to an article on The Internet Craftsmanship Museum website: "Starting in the late 1930's, Dick [McCoy] produced about 35 race car engines on his own before having them made by Duro-Matic Products Co. in Hollywood starting in 1945. From 1953 to 1956 the engines were made by McCoy Products Co. in Culver City before turning production over to Testors in April, 1956." Accordingly, this advertisement in a 1946 issue of Air Trails magazine appeared not long after Duro-Matic Products Co. began making the McCoy engines...

Northrop Aeronautical Institute

Northrop Aeronautical Institute Ad, November 1946 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsPer Merriam-Webster, the word "quiz" as a noun means: 1) an eccentric person, 2: a practical joke, or 3: the act or action of quizzing specifically - a short oral or written test. As a verb it means: 1) to make fun of - mock, 2) to look at inquisitively, or 3) to question closely. Since this "Quiz on Aeronautical Engineering Education" from a 1946 issue of Air Trails magazine is directed toward the reader, its content does not seem to meet any of the definitions. It can only really be called a "quiz" if it is directed toward the Northrop Aeronautical Institute, which it is. It is clearly a case of the reader asking the questions, not the reader being quizzed on his aeronautical knowledge. I point this out only because it seems like a deceptive technique for grabbing the reader's attention by implying a test of technical prowess - in which the kind of people who read this sort of magazine typically love to participate. Instead, it is merely an advertisement...

Rotating Detonation Engines for Rocket Propulsion

Rotating Detonation Engines for Rocket Propulsion - Airplanes and Rockets"These engines will allow upper stage rockets for space missions to become lighter, travel farther, and burn more cleanly. Researchers have developed a rocket propulsion system, known as a rotating detonation rocket engine, that will allow upper stage rockets for space missions to become lighter, travel farther, and burn more cleanly. Rotating detonations are continuous, Mach 5 explosions that rotate around the inside of a rocket engine. The explosions are sustained by feeding hydrogen and oxygen propellant into the system at just the right amounts. This system improves rocket engine efficiency..."

Bonanza Debonair Article & Plans

Bonanza Debonair Article & Plans, July 1971 American Aircraft Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsWebsite visitor Eduardo wrote to ask that I scan and post this construction article for the Beechcraft Bonanza Debonair. It appeared in the July 1971 issue of American Aircraft Modeler magazine. I am glad to do so for anyone, at no charge, as time permits. Usually, I am able to get requests completed within a couple days. If plans are still available through the AMA Plans Service, then only lower resolution versions are posted (typically 1500 pixels wide) in order to not cheat the AMA out of needed revenue. Besides, there are distortions in the scaled-up magazine version that would not be present in the AMA's reproductions from the originals. The AMA Plans Service will provide a version of the plans at a size different from the original, so, for instance, if you want a 48" wingspan rather than 60" like the one featured...

Penni Helicopter

Penni Helicopter from the January 1970 American Aircraft Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsThis article for the rubber-powered free flight Penni Helicopter, by John Burkam and Gene Rock, was scanned from my purchased copy of the January 1970 American Aircraft Modeler magazine. The Penni Helicopter is fairly unique in that it has a functional tail rotor to counter the main rotor torque rather than just a big flat vertical surface. It also features a flybar on the rotor head to help stabilize flight. Main rotor span is 16 inches. Because the plans spanned two pages, I had to adjust the size and alignment a bit to get halves to line up properly. The AMA Plans Service does not carry the Penni Helicopter, so if you need a larger version, e-mail me and I will send you a 4.5 x 3.0 kpixel version. You should be able to scale up the image below, though...

Starting Control Line Flying Scale

Starting Control Line Flying Scale, Annual 1960 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsThis "Starting Control Line Flying Scale" article in the 1960 Annual Edition of Air Trails magazine is still a good primer on how to go about getting into scale flying model competition. Some of the contest rules have changed over the decades since, but the basics are the same. The table of model sizes and engines might need to be adjusted for electric powered models, but in the scale world there are still many modelers who use internal combustion engines - especially in the large airplanes. A quietly humming motor does not give quite the same real-world affect as a screaming engine. Even with all the research going into full-scale electric aircraft, we're still many moons away from have a viable military fighter, transport, or commercial commuter. The drawing is by the famous Cal Smith (as is the cover image), but the text of the article is not attributed to any named author...

Modeling Resources

Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) - Airplanes and Rockets
Academy of Model
Tower Hobbies logo - Airplanes and Rockets
Tower Hobbies

Horizon Hobby logo - Airplanes and Rockets
Horizon Hobby
Sig Manufacturing - Airplanes and Rockets
Sig Mfg
Brodak Manufacturing - Airplanes and Rockets
Brodak Mfg