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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.

- 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 -

• Glasair Aviation Has Resumed Operations

• Harbor Soaring Society Hopes to Fly Again in Fairview Park

• Latest Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) Measurements • Model Airplane Builders / Pilots Doubled Down Throughout Wuhan Flu Plandemic

• Saskatchewan Model Aircraft Show Returns to Skies for 2021 • Propulsion System Could Enable Mach 17 Speed

• WV Airports Add >$1.6B to State's Economy

• NASA Clears Boeing Starliner for 2nd Unpiloted Test Flight

• Women in Aviation Announces 2022 Scholarships

"Wing of Tomorrow" Programme Reaches Key Milestone

"Wing of Tomorrow" Programme Reaches Key Milestone - Airplanes and Rockets"An Airbus research and technology programme dubbed Wing of Tomorrow has reached a key milestone with the assembly of its first full-size wing prototype. According to Airbus, the Wing of Tomorrow programme will test the latest composite materials and new technologies in aerodynamics and wing architecture whilst simultaneously appraising how wing manufacturing and industrialisation can be improved to meet future demand as the sector emerges from the pandemic. Three full-size prototype wings will be manufactured: one will be used to understand systems integration; a second will be structurally tested to compare against computer modelling, while a third will be assembled to test..."

Counted Cross Stitch Orbis Terrae Compendiosa Descriptio

Counted Cross Stitch Orbis Terrae Compendiosa Descriptio - Airplanes and RocketsBack when Melanie had more time (around 1984), she made a lot of counted cross stitch pictures. This one remains her most ambitious project ever - a large nautical map of the ancient world, fashioned after the works of famed cartographer Gerard Mercator and titled with "Orbis Terrae Compendiosa Descriptio," which is, loosely translated, Latin for "A Comprehensive Description of the World." Melanie's work was done on 22-count fabric, and measures approximately 13" by 8" (not including white border). Such a fine effort needed a special frame, so I set about making a custom 23" by 17" frame out of teak wood bought at World of Hardwoods in Baltimore. The fancy fluting was done on my Craftsman radial arm saw with the molding head. It was a scary operation with the sharp teeth flying while feeding that teak through it. Teak, as you might know, is used extensively on boats because it weathers well. It is an oily type wood that starts out life with a shiny golden patina...

American Modeler Comics of Yore

American Modeler Comics of Yore, Comics from 1950s through Mid 1970s Vintage American Modeler Magazines (page 10) - Airplanes and RocketsThese couple vintage model aviation comics appeared in the May 1957 issue of the Academy of Model Aeronautics' American Modeler magazine. The one on page 8 might need some explanation in order "get it." Back in the era, aviation of all sorts - both model and full-size - was still a novelty for most people. When either type of aircraft was seen close to the ground where people could get up-close looks, a crowd would often gather. In this comic, a huge group of people stopped to watch the model airplane fly, so the modeler decided it was his civic duty to provide a show for the onlookers. Many decades ago, comic strips had a very broad appeal with people. Daily newspapers and magazines often carried a large variety of single pane comics and strip comics...

Dyna-Jet Engine

Dyna-Jet Engine - June 1957 American Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsHere are a couple videos of pulse jet engines being run. The top one is a home-made pulse jet engine mounted on an R/C Long EZ. The bottom video presents a short tutorial on how the Dyna-Jet is built, how it is made, and how to start it. Back in the 1950s, a company named Curtis Automotive Devices manufactured the now-converted Dyna-Jet engine (they typically sell for >$400 on e-Bay - if you can find one). Are they still around today? Yep, only the company name is now Curtis Dyna-Fog. One of the first pulse-jet products aerospace engineer Russell Curtis produced was the Dyna-Jet "Red Head" miniature engine for use in model rocketry (per their website)...

Du-Bro's Whirlybird 505 R/C Helicopter

Du-Bro's Whirlybird 505 R/C Helicopter, November 1972 American Aircraft Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsDu-Bro's Whirlybird 505 was the first successful commercial helicopter kit (although successful is a relative term as applied here). I was fortunate as a kid in Holly Hill Harbor, Mayo, Maryland, because there was a man down the street from me who was an avid radio control modeler and seemed to buy just about every new type of radio, engine, and kit available. I would anxiously await the sound of an engine running, and instantly jump on my bicycle to ride down and see what he was doing. The strange thing about it was that he had three step-sons who were notoriously bad actors who counted it as sport to harass and occasionally beat up guys like me, so I always approached the yard with a bit of trepidation. The gentleman himself was very nice, and a few times even gave me...

Thimble Drome TD-1 Control Line Airplane

Thimble Drome TD-1 Control Line Airplane - Airplanes and RocketsThimble Drone - later to become Cox - sold its first ready-to-fly control line model, the Thimble Drome TD-1, beginning around 1959. Reports have it that the original selling price was $9.99, which according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' inflation calculator, is about $95 in year 2021 dollars. The wings were of built-up construction with ribs and thin, molded sheets of aluminum skins. A modified Space Bug .049 engine was used for power. There was no spring starter on the early .049 engines, but a rubber finger guard was provided to help spare the modeler's finger...

Glowing Trees a Problem for Astronomy

Glowing Trees a Problem for Astronomy - RF CafeA controversy brews over the merits of breeding plants that glow like a lightning bug. Proponents say glowing trees could eventually replace electric street lights, thereby reducing pollution created by generating stations. Opponents say messing around with tree genes is dangerous and should be disallowed since it could lead to unanticipated environmental ramifications on both plant and animal species. The unique aspect of this effort is that it is being pursued primarily by genetic hobbyists rather than corporations - at least for now. There is bound to be a huge financial potential for such a copyrighted line of plants. My opposition to the concept is primarily a concern for light pollution projected skyward. Astronomers have a difficult enough time with ever-encroaching sources of ambient light...

Radar Rockets

Radar Rockets, July 1946 Radio-Craft - Airplanes and RocketsDuring World War II, Germany terrorized Europe with it rocket bombs, most notably the V−1 Buzz Bomb and the V−2 Rocket. The "V" prefix, BTW, stands for Vergeltungswaffe, translated as "vengeance weapon," or "retribution weapon." Both "vengeance" and "retribution" are really misnomers since it was Germany that was the aggressor in both WWI and WWII. The vengeance or retribution in Hitler's view was likely the punishment and restrictions imposed on Germany by the Treaty of Versailles for its vicious and inhumane behavior before and during World War I. History shows they doubled down on it during World War II. But I digress. This 1946 article in Radio−Craft magazine proposes a scheme for a "radar rocket" system that could detect, acquire, and intercept an enemy rocket bomb in flight - a concept that was never really successful until the Patriot Missile...

More of Those Fabulous Mini-Copters

More of Those Fabulous Mini-Copters (January 1957 American Modeler Magazine) - Airplanes and RocketsThis is yet another of my unrealized lifelong ambitions - building and flying an autogyro. The state of the art has advanced significantly since the early garage-based and corporate experimenters. Companies such as Autogyro USA sells a number of models for private pilots with both open and fully enclosed cockpits. The Bensen Autogyro was the craft du jour in the 1970s, with articles appearing in all the handyman and airplane magazines of the day. My appetite was sufficiently whetted, albeit well beyond the means of my meager paycheck. I vowed to build one when my finances would allow. I'm going on 52 still waiting. There are quite a few model autogyros flying with plenty of plans and a kit or two available if you would like to build one...

Model Airplane Theme Comics of Yore

Model Airplane Theme Comics of Yore, February 1941 Flying Aces Magazines (page 11) - Airplanes and RocketsThis triad of model airplane-themed comics appeared in the February 1941 issue of Flying Aces magazine. They are a bit on the goofy side, but keep in mind what a novelty airplanes and parachutes and such were even in the 1930s and early 1940s. Humor style was markedly different in the day overall as well, so what passed as clever then might not be considered equally clever today. That being said, don't pass up these comics - they might be just the does of lightheartedness you need at the moment...

Propulsion System Could Enable Mach 17 Speed

Propulsion System Could Enable Mach 17 Speed - Airplanes and Rockets"University of Central Florida researchers are building on their technology that could pave the way for hypersonic flight, such as travel from New York to Los Angeles in under 30 minutes. In their latest research published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers discovered a way to stabilize the detonation needed for hypersonic propulsion by creating a special hypersonic reaction chamber for jet engines. 'There is an intensifying international effort to develop robust propulsion systems for hypersonic and supersonic flight that would allow flight through our atmosphere at very high speeds and also allow efficient entry and exit from planetary atmospheres..."

Here's a Flying "Broomstick"

Here's a Flying "Broomstick" - Article and Plans, January 1941 Flying Aces - Airplanes and RocketsYou might expect this "Flying Broomstick" article to be about one of the many novelty witch-on-a-broomstick models that typically appear in September or October issues of model airplane magazines, but in this case it is simply a contest-worthy Class C rubber free flight job. The fuselage has a slight resemblance to an old wooden broomstick, but the similarity pretty much stops there. The hollow tubular fuselage made of rolled 1/16"' balsa holds 18 strands of rubber. Semi-elliptical shaped wings with a gull type dihedral give it unique look. Per designer / builder Kukuvich, "Flights of 2 min., 30 sec., are common in "dead air" and are accomplished without the help of risers..."

Model Boating Aquativities

Model Boating Aquativities (July/August 1963 American Modeler) - Airplanes and RocketsAs with model airplanes, if you wanted to enjoy the hobby of model boating back in the 1960s when this article appeared in American Modeler magazine, you had to be willing to tackle building your own model either from a kit or from plans. Ready-to-run boats were a relative rarity. Having built half a dozen model boats myself, including nitro and wind powered types, boats require a bit more work than an equivalent level of airplane because working with birch and mahogany plywood and various other-than-balsa woods is more difficult when bending, forming, and sanding. Nothing makes you appreciate carving and sanding a balsa block like trying to do the same on a piece of soft pine (or worse, something like maple or teak). Radio control was well established by the 1960s...

Best Model Airplane Kits

Best Model Airplane Kits - Airplanes and RocketsThis is kind of an unusual story for a TV news outlet, but glad to see it: "Which model airplane kit is best? Model airplane kits come in a vast variety of styles and detailed constructions. They aren't just a few wooden planks that click together and barely float anymore. They can be almost exact to scale replicas that can be radio-controlled. Model airplane kits are for all ages and can be a wonderful bonding experience when putting them together with family and friends. The best model airplane kit is the Guillow's P-51 Mustang, perfect for those seeking a touch of challenge and plenty of detail in their builds. What to know before you buy a model airplane kit. Who it's for. There are all sorts of different model airplane kits, some of which are better suited to certain intended uses. If the model airplane is intended..."

U.S. Air Force - Precision Approach Radar

U.S. Air Force Recruitment - Precision Approach Radar, March 1961 American Modeler Magazine - Airplanes and RocketsThis is pretty cool. A recruitment ad for the U.S. Air Force appeared in the March 1961 issue of American Modeler magazine showing the type of precision approach radar (PAR) that I worked on while in the service. It was part of the AN/MPN−14 Landing Control Central system which was a mobile combat unit consisting of airport surveillance radar (ASR) and PAR primary radar, a TPX−42 Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) synthetic radar, an AN/GPA−131 data mapper, and AN/ARC−? VHF/UHF radios. Alignment of the display for glide slope (top) and course line (bottom), and mile markers, was a complicated procedure involving twisting multiple interdependent control knobs until the sweeps met with a template. It was not a raster type sweep like a vintage CRT television, but like a old fashioned oscilloscope sweep instead where x-y data was fed to the deflection coils...

Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) Plans Service - Airplanes and Rockets
Plastic Scale Model Kits - Airplanes and Rockets
Drones - Airplanes and Rockets
Modeling Resources

Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) - Airplanes and Rockets

Academy of Model


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Tower Hobbies

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Horizon Hobby

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Sig Mfg

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Brodak Mfg