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About Airplanes & Rockets

Kirt Blattenberger, Webmaster - Airplanes and Rockets

Kirt Blattenberger


My Engineering Web: RF Cafe

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 ...

Airplanes And Rockets Copyright 1996 - 2026

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

My Main Modeling Websites

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

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

- 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 -

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• Classic Airplanes and Classic Cars Come Together

• Saturn V Was Loud But Didn't Melt Concrete

• Comp Air Announces Composite Kit Airplane

• International Aircraft Dealers Association Offering Aviation Scholarships

• The Clock Ticks on 100LL Avgas

• National Air Traffic Controllers Association Honors Members

• Two Oshkosh Alternative Fly-Ins

• China Publishes Most Detailed Ever Moon Map

Build the S.S.P. Helicopter

S.S.P. Helicopter from the August 1972 American Aircraft Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsImagine 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...

That Feminine Touch - AMA '59 Nats

That Feminine Touch - AMA '59 Nats, Annual 1960 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsAs I have written many times, the lack of proportional representation of women and 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 website...

How Douglas Created the DC-3

How Douglas Created the DC-3 - Airplanes and Rockets"We celebrate National Aviation Day with a look at the world's first successful commercial passenger transport airplane. The 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..."

Auto Progress: Down Memory Lane

Auto Progress: Down Memory Lane III, December 1954 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsAir 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 Pierce 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...

Rockets & Missiles on Display at Udvar-Hazy

Rockets & Missiles on Display at the Udvar-Hazy Center - Airplanes and RocketsOn 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...

Starting Control Line Combat

Starting Control Line Combat, Annual 1960 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsAccording to this 1960 Air Trails magazine "Starting Control 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...

Blade 230 S Helicopter Parts for Sale

Blade 230 S Helicopter Parts for Sale - Please Support the Airplanes and Rockets WebsiteMy Blade 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...

Flying High at Zero Altitude

Flying High at Zero Altitude, December 1958 Popular Electronics - RFCafeMy 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...

Cockpit Details for the Scale Model

Cockpit Details for the Scale Model, Annual 1960 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsModern 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 aircraft...

Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge

Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge - Airplanes and Rockets"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..."

A-justo-jig and Great Planes Wing Jig

 A-justo-jig and Great Planes Wing Jig - Airplanes and RocketsSometime 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 Wing Jig...

Dynamic Attitude-Aware Motor Speed Control for E-Powered Control Line Aircraft 

A Programmable Dynamic Attitude-Aware Motor Speed Control for Electric-Powered Control Line Aircraft - Airplanes and RocketsThere 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...

Construct a Solid of the Army's New Martin "167"

Construct a Solid of the Army's New Martin "167", December 1939 Flying Aces - Airplanes and RocketsPlastic 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 Martin 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 goes...

Rocket Battle at Denver

Rocket Battle at Denver, April 1962, American Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsIt's hard to believe 1961 was over half a century ago (62 years to be more precise). That is when this "NARAM," the National 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 Springs...

NASA Sending 2 More Helicopters to Mars

NASA Sending Two More Helicopters to Mars - Airplanes and Rockets"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 instead..."

Astro-Jeff Sailplane Article & Plans

Astro-Jeff Sailplane Article & Plans, August 1974 American Aircraft Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsHere 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...

Join the Flying Aces Club

Join the Flying Aces Club, December 1939 Flying Aces - Airplanes and RocketsAlthough this solicitation for membership to the Flying 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...

R/C Compound Escapements & Servos

R/C Compound Escapements & Servos, February 1955 Popular Electronics - RF CafeEarly "servos" 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...

Inside the Two-Cycle Engine

Inside the Two-Cycle Engine, February 1968 American Aircraft Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsEven 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 useful read...

Wings for the King

Wings for the King, December 1939 Flying Aces - Airplanes and RocketsCrash 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...

Please see the Airplanes and Rockets Homepage Archives for previous items of interest...

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