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About Airplanes & Rockets
AMA 92498 | ©1996-2015

Welcome to the Airplanes & Rockets Website
"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." Lord Kelvin, 1895

Model Aviation in the News

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Flying Car Could Go on Sale in 2017

High-Tech Airships Could De NASA's Next Challenge

What Future Army Aircraft Could Look Like

NoFlyZone Aims to Keep Airspace over Your Home Drone-Free

New Titanium-Making Process Could Result in Lighter Aircraft

$344M (€304M) Telescope Will Image the Sun in Unprecedented Detail

Harrison Ford Crash-Lands 1942 Ryan Aeronautical ST3KR on Golf Course

Electric/Hybrid Aircraft Takes Flight

No More UAV Sales in UAE

European Space Plane Flies Around the World on Test Flight

Mini Army Drones Developed

Investors Hot on Drones

Could Passenger Planes Be Tracked More Closely?

Making Civilian Skies Safe for Unmanned Aircraft

Drone Owner Registration Called for by House of Lords

What Makes the Feather Soar

How to add Radio Controls
to Your Scale Model Auto

How to add Radio Controls to Your Scale Model Auto, October 1962 American Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsEver since radio control systems have been available commercially, modelers have gone to sometimes extreme lengths to retrofit them into items not intended necessarily for R/C. GI Joes have been given servo-controlled arms to maneuver an R/C released parachute after being dropped from an R/C airplane or helicopter. Stuffed animals and dolls have been fitted with motors and controls to make them walk and move their arms. Cheap Styrofoam free flight gliders from the toy department of Walmart have had 2- or 3-channel R/C airborne systems installed to turn the $10 models into respectable thermaling machines. You can buy micro R/C systems and motor propulsion for installing on paper airplanes nowadays. This article reports on an effort to convert free running model cars into

Stunt Rocket Article & Plans

Stunt Rocket Article & Plans, July 1951 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsWalter Musciano is a very familiar name to modelers who cut their teeth on on control line model airplanes back in the middle of the last century. His flying hobby began in the 1930s are a Brooklyn, New York, schoolboy. He won his first contest in 1936. Since that time, Mr. Musciano has designed scores of model airplanes and won numerous contests. This article from the July 1951 edition of Air Trails covers the building of his famous Stunt Rocket. It was a breakthrough design due to its large size and huge, powerful ignition engine. AMA Plans Service still sells the plans

Air Progress: The Bristol Story

Air Progress: The Bristol Story, November 1948 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsThe Bristol Aircraft company was one of Britain's first commercial and military airplane manufacturing firms. Less than a decade after the Wright Brothers made their successful flight, the entire civilized world was scurrying to develop airplanes and vie for the lead position. World War I broke out in Europe 1914, which created a huge demand for aerial fighting platforms. Sir George White's company was willing and able to do so. Many famous designs came from his factory, including the Bristol Scout and Bristol Bulldog. Scarcely a major scale model contest is held where you do not find at least one of Bristol's designs. This two-page spread from a 1948 edition of Air Trails gives some history on 20 

C/L Taper Wing Waco
Article & Plans

Taper Wing Waco Article & Plans, November 1953 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsIt would be difficult to find a more perfect aerobatic scale biplane for control line flying than the Waco Taper Wing (WTW). Its solid frame, near-zero dihedral in both wings, and nearly symmetrical airfoil is just what the serious stunt flyer needs. Construction is standard built-up stick and sheet balsa framing members and Silkspan and dope covering. Today, you might choose to cover the Taper Wing Waco with Monokote, or even Coverite 21st Century Fabric if you want an authentic fabric look that is still iron-on. Originally designed for a .30-size glow engine, the model could easily be converted to electric power

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The Turbine Jet Engine

Air Progress: The Jet Engine, July 1951 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsTurbine jet engines were still a relatively new invention - at least for commercial airplanes - in 1951. The military was already using them for fighters, but remember that it wasn't until the end of World War II that jet airplanes were seen in the skies, so we're only talking about half a decade of progress. Mr. Douglas Rolfe produced this very finely detailed cross-sectional drawing of a turbine jet engine. It must have taken quite a while to add so much information. Even using modern CAD software would require a lot of time to generate such a drawing. The nice thing about CAD is that if you make a mistake or change something, or maybe want to move part of the drawing to another location on the page, it is a simple

Beyond the "Barrier"

Beyond the Sound "Barrier", November 1948 Air Trails - Airplanes and Rockets"On October 14, 1947, the Bell X-1 became the first airplane to fly faster than the speed of sound. Piloted by U.S. Air Force Capt. Charles E. "Chuck" Yeager, the X-1 reached a speed of 700 miles per hour, Mach 1.06, at an altitude of 43,000 feet." This article appeared in Air Trails a year later in order to help introduce and explain supersonic flight to the modeling public. One of the most unanticipated aspect of supersonic flight was the reversal of aileron control in the transition region. Aerodynamists quickly figured out what was happening and made design alterations to remedy the problem. BTW, 'Muroc' mentioned here is Muroc Air Force Base, which was later

Enterprise-E Control Line
Stunt Model Maiden Flight

Enterprise-E Control Line Stunt Model - Airplanes and RocketsMy Enterprise-E finally had its maiden flight today, and all went very well. The electric power system seems very appropriately fitted and provides way more than enough thrust. There is a lot of control surface throw available so the first flight was a bit shaky for the first few times around the circle, but the craft settled down after I got accustomed to it. Three flights were put in and I brought her home unscathed - that's success in anyone's book! A short video is posted on the web page

R/C Reliability:
Escapements and Batteries

R/C Reliability Escapements and Batteries, April 1955 Popular Electronics - Airplanes and RocketsBill Winter is one of the best-known names in the aeromodeling realm since he has been around writing columns on modeling events, construction, flying, and product features, serving as editors of modeling magazines, and participating in modeling events throughout the country since the middle of the last century. He went above and beyond the call of duty in his attempt to introduce people to the model aircraft and model rocketry hobbies. This particular article is one of a handful Bill wrote for Popular Electronics magazine in the 1950s and 1960s. An amazing transformation has occurred in the radio-control aspect in that when this article was published, participation required knowledge of electronics, a larger hobby budget than your average modeler, and a willingness to be continually battling problems

Hughes Aircraft XF-11 (F-11)

(X)F-11, November 1948 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsAlthough it looks a lot like the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, Hughes Aircraft's F-11 was designed to be an aerial photo-reconnaissance platform during World War II, and was much larger than the P-38. Eccentric millionaire and accomplished aviator Howard Hughes served as the test pilot for the XF-11 prototype, which ended up crashing into a couple houses just outside the airport. Only two were ever built. Interestingly, somewhere I have an article in either an American Modeler or another Air Trails magazine what tells the tale of pilot who during World War II used a specially equipped P-38 to take low level, high speed flight photographs of German troop movements along the western side of the English Channel

Control Line Capers

Wild Bill Netzeband's Control Line Capers, from September/October 1963 American Modeler Magazine - Airplanes and RocketsHarold Netzenband hit a home run with this month's "Control Line Capers" column in the September / October 1963 edition of American Modeler. It is chock full of good stuff ranging from some incredible multi-engined models (a B-17 Flying Fortress, a P-38 Lightning, and a Grumman S2F-1 Tracker) to sleek control line stunt jobs (Elasic's Impala and Harold Price's retractable landing gear Valkyrie). He also covers a lot of newly introduced modeling accessories

Balsa Density vs. Weight

Balsa density-weight charts by Al and Rod Clark - Airplanes and RocketsAl and Rod Clark created a very nice set of graphs that plot balsa density versus weight for wide variety of balsa sheet thickness, width, and length combinations. There is also a brief discussion on balsa grain (A, B, and C) and how it affects the wood's characteristics. It is hosted on the AMA's website. I also have a page on the subject of balsa wood properties that was derived from a 1970's era Sig Manufacturing catalog, and there is also a nice article on balsa tree foresting and harvesting.

National Model Meet Under Way

National Model Meet Under Way, November 1948 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsOnce again, I think about all the young lads and men I see in these middle of the last century articles and wonder whether their lives went well and are they still around today, engaged in aeromodeling? Most probably have kids and grandkids who would love to run across one of these photos that probably nobody in the family even knows exists. What about the models, too? How many are sitting in an attic or garage somewhere, and will be discarded by disinterested kin or estate buyers? No doubt many (not just those shown here) met their demise while being flown, transported to or from a flying field, in a house fire, during a flood, in a tornado or hurricane

Maiden Flight of My
105% Airtronics Aquila Sailplane

Kirt Blatenberger with 105% Airtronics Aquila Sailplane - Airplanes and RocketsBack in the late 1970s I built an Aquila from plans that appeared in RC Modeler magazine, then I built another Aquila in the early 1980s from a kit. Both are long gone. About 6 months ago while waxing nostalgic about the Aquila, I decided to build another, but this time I had the plans enlarged to 105% to get the wingspan over 100" while not having to change airframe component sizes. This version has a .10 size electric motor for power. I wanted to determine the amount of down-thrust needed to prevent a nose-high climb prior to final nose shaping and canopy installation. For this maiden flight, there was about 8 degrees, which was not enough. It really needs about 12 degrees at full power. As you can see from the video, the flight went flawlessly. It was very gusty so I only put in one flight. The wing spoilers work like a charm

Pilotless Plane Run by Radio

Pilotless Plane Run by Radio, May 1946 Radio News - Airplanes and RocketsNews reports are full of features about the wave of radio controlled (R/C) 'drones' terrorizing citizens with their often inexperienced pilots navigating their camera-laden craft to peer into bedroom windows, obtain 'birds-eye' views of sporting events, and to be a general pain in the posterior to people trying to enjoy their right to privacy and safety (except, of course, unless it is the Government choosing to violate them). Incredible advances in radio, navigation, and sensor systems has facilitated a wide variety of very affordable multirotor (the correct term, not 'drone') aircraft that can literally fly themselves. For under $500 you can buy a GPS-guided multirotor that can be programmed to fly to one or more waypoints and return to the launch location, with range and flight duration limited

Eddie Elasick's AMA Stunter

Eddie Elasick's AMA Stunter "Impala", from September/October 1963 American Modeler Magazine - Airplanes and RocketsEddie Elasick was all the rage in Junior control line stunt circles (pun intended) in the early 1960s. His Impala stunter design won him national fame, and the model is still commonly built and flown in Old Time Stunt contests across the country. The 'triple-tail' design and sleek lines that included wheel pants made it stand out amongst competitors of its day. The Impala has a 54" wingspan and originally used a Fox .35 Stunt engine, with a 3.5-oz. fuel tank. Flying weight was around 45 ounces

Author: Kirt Blattenberger on Google+
Kirt Blattenberger
Tower Hobbies logo - Airplanes and RocketsCall me a Tower Hobbies groupie, or maybe I'm just lazy, but I have been ordering most (probably >90%) of my modeling supplies from Tower Hobbies since they first opened in the 1970s. I remember anxiously awaiting delivery of my first Carl Goldberg 1/2A Skylane from them. That was before the Internet, when mail order involved hand-writing your order on a form and enclosing a check or money order in an envelope, then dropping it in the mailbox. 3-4 weeks was a typical turn-around time. No, I do not get any perks for posting this.
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