About 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. There is a lot of good information and there are lot of pictures throughout the website that you will probably find useful, and might even bring back some old memories from your own days of yore. The website began life around 1996 as an EarthLink screen name of ModelAirplanes, and quickly grew to where more server space ...

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Kirt Blattenberger
BSEE - KB3UON
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Jetco Shark 15 C/L Airplane

Kirt Blattenberger with Jecto Shark 15 (circa 1970-1972) - Airplanes and Rockets

The Jetco Shark 15 was my first "real" control line airplane, procured sometime in the 1970 to 1972 timeframe. I notice that my AMA number, 92498, was not painted on the wing. The ones that preceded it were all plastic Cox models and a couple profile balsa ones with solid sheet wings. The Shark 15 launched me into a whole new realm of control line stunt since it had a built-up wing with a "real" airfoil and even flaps coupled to the elevator. The Fox .15 engine was a bear to start, but then my paltry modeling budget at the time meant starting equipment consisted of a couple "D" batteries and no electric starter. While I never have to this day performed a recognizable cloverleaf, this model probably brought me as close to it as I'll ever come.

Read the construction notes from fellow Shark 15 owner Kim Allen Stricker
Kim Stricker's Shark - Airplanes and Rockets

It was built with trusty Duco Cement (from DuPont) and was covered in Silkspan. A few coats of clear and silver butyrate dope from Sig finished off the wing, while the fuselage was done in black. I remember my father having one of the reporters at the newspaper where he worked as the classified ad manager (The Evening Capital, in Annapolis, Maryland), stop by the Perfect Parts Company up in Baltimore to pick up the wheels and fuel tank. Mail ordering equipment was still a very new concept for me, so most of my purchases were made in a hobby shop. The photo was probably take around 1970-1972, when I would have been about 12-14 years old.

Disposition: Finally crashed to the point of no restoring it.

Fox .15 engine (McCoy .35 also) - Airplanes and RocketsThe kit shown below is one I bought for about $40 on eBay in 2007. I also bought a Fox .15 for about $35. The model will probably never be built. For the benefit of anyone wanting to take a nostalgic trip back in time, I took pictures of the plans with all the parts packed in the box. There is another photo below it of all the parts pulled out of the box so that you can see everything. Eventually, I will take detailed photos of the plans and parts and put them here.

 

Jecto Shark 45 advertisement in November 1973 American Aircraft Modeler - Airplanes and Rockets

Jetco Shark 15 kit purchased on eBay in 2007 - plans - Airplanes and Rockets

Jetco Shark 15 Control Line Airplane - Plans

Jetco Shark 15 kit purchased on eBay in 2007 - parts - Airplanes and Rockets

Jetco Shark 15 Control Line Airplane - Kit Parts

Look for this kit on eBay when you get word of my death, because neither of my kids has any interest whatsoever in model airplanes.

Jetco Shark 15 C/L Airplane airframe - Airplanes and RocketsThese pictures were found on an eBay auction in December 2007, and do a good job showing the Jetco Shark 15's airframe.

 

Jetco Shark 15 Control Line airplane - Airplanes and Rockets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jetco Shark 15 decal - Airplanes and RocketsShark 15 decal - I don't remember it, but there must have been one in my kit from log ago, and the kit I bought on eBay had one just like it.

 

 

 

Here is a note I received from fellow long-ago Shark 15 owner Kim Allen Stricker, in response to my posting here. Kim has given permission to include it on my Shark 15 page. He is also providing construction photos for the short kit he bought from LazerWorks.

Kim Stricker's Shark 15 - Airplanes and Rockets

--- Kim's Shark 15 Ready for Action ---
(a Midwest airport in the background and an RF Cafe coffee mug in the foreground)

Kim Stricker's Shark 15 and Winder - Airplanes and Rockets
Shark & Winder at Airport
 - Airplanes and Rockets
Shark & Winder
 Kim Stricker's Shark 15 short kit from LazerWorks - Airplanes and Rockets
Monokote & Paint
Kim Stricker's Shark 15 short kit from LazerWorks - Airplanes and Rockets
It won't be long now...
Kim Stricker's Shark 15 short kit from LazerWorks - Airplanes and Rockets
Almost ready to cover

Kim Stricker's Shark 15 short kit from LazerWorks - Airplanes and Rockets
Shark w/hardware

Kim Stricker's Shark 15 short kit from LazerWorks - Airplanes and Rockets
Enya .19 in the nose

Kim Stricker's Shark 15 short kit from LazerWorks - Airplanes and Rockets
Framed-up Shark 15

Kim Stricker's Shark 15 short kit from LazerWorks - Airplanes and Rockets
Bell crank installation

Kim Stricker's Shark 15 short kit from LazerWorks - Airplanes and Rockets
Shark nose assembly

Kim Stricker's Shark 15 short kit from LazerWorks - Airplanes and Rockets
Laser-cut ribs for the Shark 15

Kim Stricker's Shark 15 short kit from LazerWorks - Airplanes and Rockets
Center rib correction

I've found a small discrepancy with the Lazer-Works Shark that might give someone a little hassle in the early stages of building the wing, and am gonna send them a note about it. It's not a big deal, just a little trimming to avoid problems early on. Otherwise, I should have the thing standing on it's legs in a day or two.

Kim Stricker's Shark 15 short kit from LazerWorks - Airplanes and Rockets
Shark 15 wing framed up

Kim Stricker's Shark 15 short kit from LazerWorks - Airplanes and Rockets
Shark 15 plans

Hey Kirt,
I stumbled across the short story on your website about a Jetco Shark 15 built in the early '70's. Man! What a weird coincidence...down to the glue used...I guess a lot of us were living the same dream back then! My Uncle Wayne taught me to fly control-line planes in 1968 (starting with a battered, but beloved Cox PT-19 Trainer), and on many Sunday afternoons, the local ball park was filled with the whining cadence of endlessly circling models of every color that Aero Gloss offered.

My uncle had built a Shark 15 (with Duco Glue) and installed an Enya .19 (that sucker MOVED!!!). Being a farmer on a tight budget, he had to match the airplane to the engines he had on hand, and didn't own a .15, so the Shark became a .19-powered Aerial Hot-Rod.

Another thing about my uncle was that when he finished a model...it was finished...no trimming, no ballast added or removed, and very little investigating or enhancing of it's flight habits. His son Bobby, and I just had to adapt to any quirks the plane might have.

While the Shark looked and flew great, it maneuvered like a big truck with no power steering. A simple loop would result in a screaming, grass clipping pull-out that would have the "down wire" trailing way out behind the guitar-string-tight "up wire"! We'd have the handle hauled clear back to horizontal, trying to miss the ground, with the appropriate "WHOA" from any spectators as the Shark laid a shock wave across the ballpark's infield!

Of course, this was ultimately the source of it's un-doing, when Bobby came up an ant's-height too short, and the Shark impacted the ground right in front of us. The grass grabbed the plane and stopped it almost instantly, exploding nearly all of the Silkspan off the wings, and fracturing everything from the engine mounts to the rudder.

A few years later, I built my own Shark (again with Duco Household Cement), and checking out the carcass of my uncle's plane (he kept everything), discovered that he had made a mistake in hooking up the controls. You might remember that the pushrod ran from the bellcrank to a horn on the flaps, with another pushrod going from the flaps to the elevator. He had their position reversed, so the poor Shark had a ton of flap travel, with just a little elevator movement!

With the correct pushrod positions, the Shark became a great aerobatic machine and I flew it for many years with the same Enya that had powered my uncle's plane...still blasting around the sky, but missing the ground with a lot more margin!

Anyway, hope this wasn't too boring. Thanks much for your story!!!


More... (June 2008)

As a 12-13 year-old, I was very lucky to have my Uncle Wayne step up to give me a direction for all the stuff that goes on in a kid's mind at that age. Those dusty, oily Sunday afternoons at the ball park are some of the best memories I have. The names of the airplanes and their engines (Ringmaster, Shoestring, Voo Doo, Cox, McCoy, Fox) are still magic-sounding to me, and it's hard for people to appreciate that they were way more than just toys.

With my lawn-mowing/Grit selling budget, every purchase had to be strategically planned, and involved a lot of imagining and day-dreaming before the actual plane ever came into existence on my little work table. Even their box-tops were used as posters in the "Hall of Fame" I created by nailing them to the wall beside my bed!

 


More... (August 2008)

 - Airplanes and Rockets

Over the past couple of years, I've been slowly working through my stacks of old photos...scanning them to my computer, and found a few of an old buddy of mine and his Shark. In 1975-76, Kevin built a Shark and painted it in colors and scheme very nearly matching mine. The planes were so close in speed that we found we could easily fly in close formation, and actually put on a couple of good shows with our Sharks.

The similar looks got us into trouble one afternoon. We had a good flight going...I had just come over the top, and was locked onto Kevin's Shark...about a foot or so above it, and about a foot back from even. He told me later that he got confused and thought his was the top Shark...anyhow, he yanked hard, intending to wing-over away from my plane...and of course, I plowed into him!  - Airplanes and Rockets

My prop tore into his inboard wing and flap, and then ripped off his inboard stabilizer and elevator. The strike killed my engine and broke it's prop, but I was able to just glide down and actually make a pretty good landing on the infield dirt, with just a hole knocked in my outboard wing from his rudder. Kevin wasn't as lucky...when my prop struck his elevator, it tore the control horn loose, so the only pitch control he had was the flaps. And of course, the engine picked this time to go to full lean, and really started to wind up!

At first, we thought he was gonna make it...we knew the engine had to be almost out of fuel, and his Shark continued in level flight (while I grabbed mine and ran to safety!) for two or three laps...with Kevin yelling that he wasn't getting much from his control inputs...real "rock-on-a-string" stuff! Unfortunately, it finally got a little off level, swooping and climbing steeper and steeper...until it hit the ground. Considering what could have happened, he got off pretty easy...crunched belly, bent landing gear and torn up covering on the bottom of the wing. I think he repaired it, but don't remember for sure.

I've also included photos of my old Shark...been getting the shop in shape for building the new one...gonna try to recycle some of the hardware from the old dog, so I may use the bellcrank and leads, along with the landing gear wire.

That's about it...time to go do a little "Shark Surgery"!


More... (August 2008)

I finally got a full day to myself, and used several chunks of it to move the Shark along. I'm still appreciating those laser-cut parts!

I decided to put the lead-out exits under the wingtip (Cosmetics), and may make the landing gear two piece, so I can fly without it...IF I can get someone trained enough that I trust them to chuck the sucker! 


And More... (end of August 2008)

Yo Kirt!

Thanks for the compliment! The Sucker is on it's feet! Gonna have to start seriously thinking 'bout a paint scheme for it. Probably will go with a variation on the classic box-top scheme and not do the Navy Blue / White thing again.

I was really tempted to go the silkspan route...nostalgic flash-back and all...but am going Monokote, both for the reason you mentioned, and also because my ancient bottles of Aero Gloss have mostly dried up. I do want to paint the fuselage, and will have to res each some current brands of paint that'll stand up to that slobbering Enya...probably go with the Top Flite Monokote paints. If you've got any suggestions, I'd appreciate your input.

Mods:

I'm gonna use "Old School" stitched hinges (carpet thread) rather than the mechanical or Monokote method (the cloth ones would need the dope/silkspan route on the wings). Years ago, I discovered that I could make hinges using a carpet thread, with no slop or stiffness, and have never be able to wear them out or get them to fail.

Changed my mind on the lead-outs...they're back on top of the wingtips!

Made the landing gear removable by simply cutting it in half, and sleeving the gear hole with a piece of brass tubing. Used the gear-clamps from the original kit.

Installed a reinforced tail-skid, with hoop for the launching stooge.

Gonna leave off the wing-fuselage fairings so I can get a cleaner fuse/wing Monokote/paint mating.


Mid-October 2008 Update

Thought I'd send another Shark Up-Date! Got me some Brodak Dope flowing, and tapes masking, and otherwise stretching out a project that I would have had finished in a week as a kid! Got plenty of trim left...might as well use some more masking tape!

The combines are running, and the thermals are popping, so I get to sit in my lawn chair and critique the soaring qualities of corn-stalk leaves as they back glide down following their Dust-Devil high start! I've seen these leaves stabilized in a glide at over 2000 feet on Fall days when the baby tornadoes are active! Great entertainment with a glass of afternoon ice tea! (at least for a simple mind!)

Hope things are good on your end!