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Du-Bro was the first American company to
produce a radio control helicopter kit - the Whirlybird 505. That was sometime
around 1972 It was modeled after the way free flight helicopters were built an the
engine and propeller sitting on top of the main rotor, using a free-wheeling rotor
that turned in response to the counter torque of the engine. Fixed pitch rotor blades
were controlled via a flybar assembly as was the case prior to the advent of flybarless
rotor heads. Du-Bro's next helicopter was a much-improved and very popular Hughes 300,
using a driven rotor with the engine mounted in the fuselage. It also used a flybar
for rotor control. Building off that success, they next introduced this
TriStar R/C helicopter. It was smaller than the Hughes 300 and modeled
after the RotorWay Scorpion homebuilt helicopter that was all the rage in the 1970s
and 80s ...
This short history on one of model aviation's
most recognizable hobby shops is sad, albeit not unusual in the era of online distributors.
"The End of an Era - Hobby
Lobby Building Torn Down" is a good read if you remember the old days when modeler-built
kits and glow engines were king. "The building that so many of us bought our hobby
goods from is gone for good. I found out through the grapevine that they were tearing
down the original Hobby Lobby building in the next few days. That's a sad thing
to think about for many of us in the RC hobby. I thought I would take this time
to write some recollections of that place as a former HL employee and prior to that
a customer ...
"Frederick A. Johnsen's recent Of Wings &
Things - JATO pushed performance - looked back at jet-assisted takeoff (JATO) power.
While interest in the column was high, several commenters referred to an
as early JATO test bed. In response, Fred reached out to his connections and
was able to gain access to a few documents, including a photo and a page from the
JATO-powered Ercoupe's test report. 'This report deals with the flight tests of
the Ercoupe airplane with and without auxiliary jet propulsion carried out at March
Field, California. Capt. H. A. Boushey, Jr., liaison officer for the project, was
assigned as pilot by the Air Corps Materiel Division, and personnel for assisting
the flight tests were made available ..."
The Swinamer vintage ½A model airplane
factory has turned out yet another enviable product in the form of Fred Reese's
(Ace R/C) Simple Duster, which
originally appeared in the February 1987 issue of R/C Modeler magazine.
Those long, cold Canadian winters provide ample opportunity to build up a fresh
squadron of models for the long-awaited flying season. Steven is an ardent believer
in the Earthly spiritual connectedness between mankind and the sound and smell of
an .049 engine screaming at 20,000 rpm. It is akin to the swoosh sound at launch
and after-aroma of an Estes rocket motor after a flight that a model rocketeer is
drawn to. The Simple Duster uses the famous Ace foam wing core. Ace had both a constant
chord and a tapered chord version. The Simple Duster uses the tapered chord version ...
In yet another testament to the venerable
Douglas DC-3 (and its predecessor DC-2), this 1942 article in Flying Aces
magazine highlights the extreme extent of battle damage some of these planes suffered
and still managed to fly to a safe landing. Of course not all flight crews were
so fortunate, but the robustness of the airframe and engines are rightly credited
for their endurance and reliability. During and long past the rigors of World War II
service years, the DC-3 built upon its reputation as a work horse. It is no wonder
that the DC-3 (and its military designation of C-47) has for going on a century
been the all-time favorite transport type airplane of many aviation enthusiasts
- including yours truly. If I had a bucket list, which I really do not, at or near
the top of the list would be to take a ride in a DC-3 or a C-47. In all the places
I have lived in the last many decades, there has never been one at an airshow that
was offering rides for hire. Time is running out
According to the About Us page on the
RipMax website, "In 1949 Ripmax first opened its doors as a Toy & Model
Shop based in Camden Town. Focusing on the popularity of Radio control, the co-founder,
Max Coote, decided to concentrate on design and sale of exclusive lines of modelling
goods, primarily accessories for model boats. 'Everyman's Model Shop' as it was
known soon became recognised as the 'Radio Control Specialist', and it wasn't long
before Max was looking at manufacturing and supplying to the model trade direct."
One of the most popular items RipMax exported was the Jetex line of rocket / jet
engines manufactured by Telasco ...
"The U.S. military has long sought quick,
low cost access to space along with the ability to operate a satellite launcher
like a commercial airliner making daily round trips. The Defense Advanced Research
Projects Agency (DARPA), which launched an experimental space plane program in 2013,
recently settled on a winged design that would be propelled by a version of Aerojet
Rocketdyne's AR-22 engine originally used as the main engine for the American space
shuttle. Prime contractor Boeing said it is applying automation technology developed
during testing of the X-37B shuttle to its
prototype selected by DARPA ..."
A couple years ago I posted an article about
Victor Stanzel ElectroMic "Copter" Tethered Helicopter that I had bought on
eBay. It was just like the one I had as a pre-teen in the 1960's. If memory serves
me correctly, I also had one of the ElectroMic Flash Tethered Airplanes as well.
Someday I'll probably buy one of those on eBay. The webpage hyperlinked above has
a video embedded that tells the story of the Stanzel Brothers' Model Airplane Museum.
You will be amazed at all the types of models they produced - powered airplanes,
gliders, helicopters, flying saucers. They were a couple of the earliest pioneers
in manufacturing ready-to-fly model airplanes. This feature article in American
Modeler magazine tells a little more of their story ...
Hawk 30 prototype will begin its maiden flight at a NASA base within days. A
secretive joint venture between SoftBank and U.S. aerospace company AeroVironment
is poised to launch an experimental solar-powered drone to deliver connectivity
for 5G and the Internet of Things. The Hawk 30 will have a curved 'flying wing'
design similar to a series of high-altitude solar drones that AeroVironment made
for NASA twenty years ago. Filings with the Federal Aviation Administration and
the Securities and Exchange Commission suggest the new Hawk will have 10 electric
engines and an operational altitude of over 20 kilometers. According to a Space
Act Agreement signed with NASA in November, the prototype drone ..."
"The Russian company that gave the world
the iconic AK-47 assault rifle has unveiled a suicide drone that may similarly revolutionize
war by making sophisticated drone warfare technology widely and cheaply available.
The Kalashnikov Group put a model of its miniature
exploding drone on display this week at a major defense exhibition in Abu Dhabi,
the capital of the United Arab Emirates, where the world's arms companies gather
every two years to show off and market their latest wares. The tiny item was dwarfed
by the tanks, armored vehicles and fighter jets that were also on display. But it
has as much potential to change the face of war as its older cousin, the AK-47,
widely referred to simply as the Kalashnikov ..."
This International Model Aircraft Company
advertisement appeared in the June 1960 issue of England's Aero Modeller
magazine. The company, which went by the moniker FROG ("Flies
Right Off the Ground"),
had been in business producing flying models since the early 1930s. Price formats
such as 17/6 for the Talisman control line model is interpreted as 17 shillings
and 6 pence, seventeen and six, or seventeen and sixpence. According to the UK National
Archives website currency conversion calculator, 17/6 in 1960 is the equivalent
to £18.34 (pound sterling) in 2017, which is the equivalent of $24.23 U.S. That
somehow seems way too low for a 1960 to 2017 price conversion ...
about a drone that shoots down other drones using an onboard shotgun appears on
the Interesting Engineering website. The flying shotgun airframe uses a "canard"
configuration, named so for its duck-like appearance in flight. "Drones are capable
of all sorts of weird and wonderful things like shutting down airports to delivering
medicines. Now a new drone developed in Russia can even shoot other drones out of
the sky. The Russian defense contractor, Almaz Antey has created a drone equipped
Vepr-12 shotgun with a 10-round magazine. The drone is able to take off vertically
but then flies like an airplane hunting down fellow UAVs. The drone is controlled
by a pilot who wears a visor-wearing operator which connects via video link to the
drone's camera. The pilot can direct the drone and aim the weapon ..."
My next venture into R/C helicopters after
the DuBro Tristar came about a decade later when I bought an
Ikarus ECO 8 electric chopper from Hobby
Lobby (circa 1998). It was pretty lame in performance (but then so was I) with the
stock motor and a very heavy NiCad battery pack. At least there were no clutch problems
to deal with as those which plagued the Tri-Star. This time I had a heading hold
gyro for the tail rotor and I was actually able to somewhat fly the thing. The photo
of me flying (kinda) my ECO 8 was taken in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in August
of 1998. After losing patience with the poor performance of the brushed motor and
NiCad battery pack, I sold it on an AOL bulletin board to some guy in Florida. It
had not suffered any damage beyond a slight dent in the tail boom where ...
This 1960 Fly-In held by the
Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) marks its 8th event. Before the well-known
Oshkosh, Wisconsin location became the de facto venue, the Fly-Ins were held at
Greater Rockford, Illinois, Airport. I'm not sure whether the original EAA charter
included restored aircraft or if it was constrained to home-builts. All the airplanes
shown in this 1961 issue of American Modeler magazine are home-builts.
At the time, the EAA boasted a membership of 9,000 consisting of 100 local chapters.
Today, they claim more than 200,000 members worldwide. That's a factor of 22 in
58 years, which is the equivalent of a steady annual growth of about 5.5% over that
period. To wit: 9,000 * 1.055^58 = 200,856 ...
The January 2019 issue Model Aviation magazine,
published by the Academy of Model Aeronautics' (AMA) Model Aviation, had a piece
Gizmo Geezer line of free flight products having been acquired by Model Aviation
Products. Gizmo Geezer is line of high quality fully assembled free-wheeling propeller
mount assemblies, some of which include adjustable angle buttons. These units are
very inexpensive and eliminate performance-robbing rubber motor and propeller management
problems associated with free-wheeling propeller style of model aircraft. Lightweight
and injection molded high-strength nylon for long life and reliable performance ...
When I was a wee lad back in the 1960s, my
parents gave me a small electric slot car race track set for Christmas. I remember
that it had Sears' name on it, but couldn't recall the exact set. When this
Chicane-Eight 1/32 Scale Road Race Set (manufactured by Eldon) appeared on eBay,
I figured it might be the one, so I bought it. As it turns out, this set was sold
by the Canadian branch of Sears Roebuck that partnered with Simpsons department
stores. Since I lived in Maryland, this could not have been the slot car set I owned.
This has got to be one of the best-preserved Eldon Simpsons-Sears Chicane-Eight
1/32 Scale Road Race Sets in existence today. It works perfectly, as the video below
The U.S. Mint marks the 50th anniversary of
the first moon landing. Four different versions of the
coins are offered; sales will raise money for the National Air and Space Museum's
"Destination Moon" exhibit and for the Astronauts Memorial Foundation and the Astronaut
Scholarship Foundation. "Buzz Aldrin should have been holding the camera. He and
Neil Armstrong had been outside the spacecraft for almost an hour and a half, working
through their checklists, and one of Aldrin's chores was to photograph the area
where Armstrong had just finished scooping up soil and rocks to bring home. But
perhaps because Armstrong was the one who had gathered the samples ..."
Whilst waiting for the Canadian snow to subside,
Steven built a second Ace Whizard, this time with a cox TeeDee .049 engine and a
separate 2 0z. fuel tank. That should extend the flight time from 2-3 minutes
with the Black Widow .049 to 8-10 minutes. The TeeDee should provide a little more
power as well. The Whizard began appear in Ace R/C advertisements around 1974. See
Steven's building article that has lots of good photos ...
Not being content to have built a giant size
version of his "Alain's
Duck," he just sent me these photos of the turbine jet-powered version of a
variant of the original canard. What's next - a full-size homebuilt airplane with
Alain at the controls? Alain promises a video of the first flight soon. Warm weather's
on the way, so hopefully we won't have to wait very long ...
In my continuing effort to help make certain
that the history of Charles Schulz's Peanuts comic series is preserved, this set
of View-Master slides has been scanned and/or photographed as required. If you want
to own this "Snoopy
and the Red Baron" set, there are probably copies available on eBay, which is
where I bought this set. It is in like-new condition. Charles Schulz drew all of
the daily comic strips himself, but he did license other artists to draw his characters
for some commercial products, and these appear to be so. In fact, of all the
Peanuts comics I have seen - and I have probably seen most of them - this accompanying
booklet contains the only non-Peanuts type character I can remember seeing. Picture
19 on the last page shows a nonschultzian [sic] French woman bidding farewell to
Snoopy the World War II Flying Ace ...
The March 2019 issue of the Academy of Model
Aeronautics' Model Aviation magazine contains a letter from Dave Jones,
of the AUAV website. Mr. Jones
informs us that, contrary to popular belief, he was the designer, builder, and tester
of the first frequency hopping spread spectrum
(FHSS) radio control system
(R/C) operating in the 2.4 GHz ISM band. He developed his system for the DoD
back in the 1990s, many years before Spektrum R/C marketed its first commercial
spread spectrum system in the early 2000s (see my
Spektrum DX6 teardown). Prior to 2.4 GHz systems (now a combo of FHSS and
DSSS), FM and to a lesser extent AM digital proportional R/C systems were primarily
on the 72 (air, 50 channels) / 75 (surface, 30 channels) MHz band (a few on
50/53 MHz for licensed Hams). RF interference and unintentional "stepping on"
frequencies in use often resulted in costly aircraft crashes. The 72 Hz systems
were vulnerable to metal-to-metal noise (a problem in helicopters) whereas the 2.4 GHz
systems are immune. Dave Jones made a
Monkee of that
issue and sent it to the
bottom of the sea,
figuratively speaking. And now you know... the rest of the story.
"On Thursday evening, SpaceX launched its
first rocket of the year from Cape Canaveral, and tucked inside was the first lunar
lander built with mostly private money. The robotic lander, dubbed
Beresheet (which means “Genesis” or 'in the beginning' in Hebrew) lifted off
at 8:45 pm EST on top of a Falcon 9 rocket. If all goes according to plan, Beresheet
will gently touch down on the lunar surface on April 11, becoming the first private
spacecraft to reach the surface of another planetary body. To date, only three nations
have landed on the moon: the United States, Russia and China. If this mission succeeds,
Israel will become the fourth - and by far the smallest - country to reach the lunar
"The Condor has been in development for the
past year and is the next generation in DDC's
drone delivery cargo aircraft. With a payload capacity of 400 pounds, and a
potential travel distance of up to 108 nautical miles, the Condor pushes the limits
in both cargo capacity and distances. The Condor is powered by a next generation
gas propulsion engine. The Condor measures 22 feet long, 5.1 feet wide and seven
feet tall. It has a wing span of approximately 20 feet and is capable of vertical
take off and landing. It is equipped with DDC's proprietary FLYTE management system
which is the same platform used in all of DDC's cargo delivery drones ..."
New: All 21 pictures now posted.
As a kid in the 1960's, following America's progress in the Space Race was a big
part of my life. I built and launched as many Estes rockets as my meager newspaper
route-funded budget allowed. When John Glenn made his historic Earth-orbiting flight
in the Mercury Freedom 7 space capsule on February 20, 1962, I was a mere 3
years old, but my parent say I was an ardent aerospace fan beginning at a very young
age. Most American households probably had at least one
slide viewer, and ours was amongst them. I loved the 3D Peanuts slide sets, and
especially any with an airplane or space exploration theme. My originals are long
gone, but fortunately I was able to buy this near-perfect set titled, "America's
Man in Space," on eBay ...