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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- Home Page Archive #11 -
"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." Lord Kelvin, 1895

In order to provide for a reasonable homepage loading time, it is impractical to just keep adding items to the top of the stack and keep all the old stuff there too. Therefore, I have created these Airplanes and Rockets Homepage Archives to maintain a historical snapshot of everything once on the homepage. Unfortunately, I did not think to keep a record until around Fall of 2009; I had just been deleting items from the bottom of the stack. No more, though. Hence forth, if you recall seeing something on the homepage but it is no longer there, please check out these archive pages. I also keep an archive of all the modeling news additions:

Homepage Additions Archive:

| 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 |
| 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 |

Modeling News Archive:

| 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 |

Phantom & Crusader: A Study in Design Ideas

Phantom Article & Plans from the June 1971 American Aircraft Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsCrusader Article & Plans from the June 1971 American Aircraft Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsWebsite visitor Richard P. wrote to ask for me to scan articles from the June 1971 edition of American Aircraft Modeler. The two articles, subtitled "A Study in Design Ideas," feature two control line stunters, the F-4 Phantom and the B8 Crusader, presented together as complimentary models but with varied construction techniques. Designed and built by two separate modelers, Bill Suarez and Vic Macaluso, respectively, they are similar in that both represented at the time "the Navy's best current jet fighters," both represented at the...

Rejuvenate R/C Batteries

Rejuvenate R/C Batteries, July 1955 Popular Electronics - Airplanes and RocketsEven after half a century, there is still a debate about whether nickel-cadmium (NiCad) batteries exhibit a "memory," and if so, how to best rejuvenate their ability to store a charge. Chemistry, materials, and manufacturing advances have vastly improved the NiCad to where if there is still a memory phenomenon, it is very minimal. If you are still using NiCads from a couple decades ago, first, congratulations for being an excellent tender of batteries, but second, it really is time to replace them. NiCads are by far the least expensive type of battery for R/C modeling, and are still included by default with new radios - both for the transmitter and the receiver. Nickel metal hydride (NiMH) have a higher energy...

Learning to Fly the S.S.P.

Learning to Fly the S.S.P. from the September 1972 American Aircraft Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsBefore electronic heading-hold and rate-hold gyroscopes, coaxial rotors, and mass-produced, highly engineered and prefabricated model helicopters, the pioneers had to design, build, and then learn to fly their creations without the benefit of someone to teach them. Such was the case even as relatively recently as 1972 when Gene Rock wrote this article about his trials and tribulation involving his home-grown S.S.P. radio controlled helicopter...

You Might Be a Model Aircraft Terrorist If...

Potential Indicators of Terrorist Activities Related to Hobby Shops - Airplanes and RocketsYou as an aircraft modeler have lost another freedom: The freedom to ask questions at your local hobby shop (LHS) without being assessed regarding your likelihood of being a potential terrorist. The FBI could soon be tapping your phone and have you on a list if you don't tread carefully. Don't believe me? Take a look below at this Communities Against Terrorism flyer published by the FBI titled, "Potential Indicators of Terrorist Activities Related to Hobby Shops."

Articles from Model Airplane News

Make Scale Dummy Radial Engines - Airplanes and RocketsMaster the Tailslide - Airplanes and RocketsMake Scale Dummy Radial Engines

Master the Tailslide

The Road to Top Gun 2012 - Airplanes and RocketsGiant Electric Airbus A400M Video - Airplanes and RocketsThe Road to Top Gun 2012

Giant Electric Airbus A400M Video

5 Easy Steps to Flying the Knife-Edge Spin - Airplanes and RocketsThe Right Way to Set Up Servos  - Airplanes and Rockets5 Easy Steps to Flying the Knife-Edge Spin

The Right Way to Set Up Servos

My Peanuts Memorabilia Collection

My Peanuts Collection - Airplanes and RocketsThe Peanuts© comic strip, drawn by Charles Schulz, has been my lifetime favorite. That it is also the world's favorite strip is no wonder. Now that I have crossed the half-century threshold, I tend to look back at the innocence and complexity of the themes with a perspective other than simply entertainment - although I still thoroughly enjoy reading them just to get a few good laughs. Along the way, I have managed to collect a few bits of memorabilia. Melanie was a Peanuts fan as a child and actually still had some of...

Queen Anne Chair Leg Repair

Queen Anne Chair Leg Repair - Airplanes and RocketsWe found a nice antique Queen Anne chair at the Erie City Mission. It had been reupholstered at some point based on a tag that was still attached. It was in excellent condition except the two front leg glue joints had broken away from the frame. Screws had been used, but the wood in the frame was chewed up and splintered from many prior attempts ...

I Finally Got a Cox Sopwith Biplane

Cox Sopwith Biplane - Airplanes and RocketsComplete set of Cox WWI Dogfighters, Fokker Triplane, Sopwith Camel, Fokker Biplane - Airplanes and RocketsI finally hit on an eBay auction where the going price for a vintage Cox Sopwith Camel biplane was under $100. It did not come with the original box, but it appears to have never been flown nor even had the engine run. It's in perfect condition. Believe it or not, the Cox Sopwith Camel is regularly selling for more than $250. It's insane. I had the 3-model WWI set as a kid, that included this Sopwith Camel, the Fokker Triplane, and the Fokker Biplane...

New Jupiter Photo - Wow!

Jupiter Photo, February 4, 2012 - Airplanes and RocketsThe sky was exceptionally clear, winds nonexistent, and the nearly full moon had not risen above the eastern horizon yet. Jupiter was about 15° west of due south, high in the sky. My Celestron NexImage was used with a 2x Barlow lens. The photo is a composite of about 500 short time exposure images recorded at 5 fps. This really helped avoid atmospheric scintillation. RegiStax v2 software was used...

National Association of Rocketry Membership

National Association of Rocketry Membership Application, January 1968 AAM - Airplanes and RocketsThe National Association of Rocketry (NAR) has been around since 1957. At one time, the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) was pretty tightly joined with them in covering model rocketry events and promoting model rocketry. In fact, for while there was space allotted in American Aircraft Modeler, AMA's monthly magazine, for model rocketry. This NAR membership is an example of what used to appear. The NAR and AMA still work together...

My Red Ryder BB Gun

My Red Ryder BB Gun - Airplanes and RocketsA Christmas Story has long been one of my favorite Christmas movies. A Charlie Brown Christmas is my favorite animated movie, and It's a Wonderful Life gets the #1 spot for a film, but this runs a very close second. It first aired around Christmas of 1983, so I was 25 at the time - a bit old for Christmas movies you might say... but you'd be wrong. Every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Melanie and I watch those three movies, plus...

McDowell Flyers, Erie, PA

McDowell Flyers - Airplanes and RocketsThe McDowell Flyers are an ad hoc group of indoor R/C enthusiasts that meet on Friday evening in the McDowell Intermediate High School Gymnasium. John Schardt is the unofficial point man, so he can answer any questions you have about model restrictions and flight schedules (not all Fridays are available). Melanie and I first visited the gym a couple weeks ago, and were amazed at the number of people there. I'm told a lot are from the local Thermal-G R/C flying club, but many do not have any formal club affiliation. In the video, you can see the level of activity. With as many as 10 airplanes aloft at one time, it's a wonder there are so few collisions - yes, they do happen, but usually with no damage. It looks like a swarm...

French-Flown YAK-3 World War Two Fighter

French-Flown YAK-3 World War Two FighterThis article with plans and a 4-view of the YAK-3 fighter appeared in the Sept/Oct 1965 edition of American Modeler. "The Yakovlev YAK-3 (Russian language: Як-3) was a World War II Soviet fighter aircraft. Robust and easy to maintain, it was much liked by pilots and ground crew alike. It was one of the smallest and lightest major combat fighters fielded by any combatant during the war, and its high power-to-weight ratio gave it excellent performance. It proved a formidable dogfighter." - Wikipedia

Vickers-Supermarine Spitfire Mk IIA

Vickers-Supermarine Spitfire Mk IIA Article & Plans (December 1972 American Aircraft Modeler) - Airplanes and RocketsWebsite visitor Garry O. wrote to request that I post this article featuring the Vickers-Supermarine Spitfire Mk IIA. With its elliptical wing planform and outward-retracting landing gear, is considered one of the most attractive airplanes ever to come out of England. It, along with the North American Mustang, are probably the two most modeled fighters from World War II. This .61-powered control-line model by Malvin Meador won the 1971 Nationals for control-line scale. It has operating retractable gear, flaps, sliding canopy, navigation lights, and drop tanks.

Atoms in the Air

Atoms in the Air (November 1946 Air Trails) - Airplanes and RocketsAtomic power was going to be the panacea for all the world's energy needs back in the mid-20th century. Every home would be powered by a personal nuclear generator, cars and trains would only need to be refueled once a year. Some military seafaring vessels are powered by nuclear fuel, but that's about it. This article from the November 1946 edition of Air Trails details serious studies for a nuclear powered aircraft. In the end, it was not the ability to build the engine that was the problem, it was the size and weight of all the lead and concrete shielding that would be required to protect... <more>

Rick Berrier Saw Himself in the 1959 Nats Photo

One of the main reasons I post articles from the old magazines is the hope that someone will be doing a search and find himself in a photo or text from an article about a model or event. It has happened a dozen or so times since I began doing so here on Airplanes and Rockets. Visitor Rick Berrier is the latest person to write. "I saw your article on the 1959 Nats in California.  I was the Air Youth State Champion form North Carolina..."

mini-ROD 1/4A Free Flight

Mini-ROD Article & Plans, February 1969 American Aircraft Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsWebsite visitor Bob G. wrote to request help with identifying a Cox .020-powered free flight model that he remembered seeing in an old edition of American Aircraft Modeler. He couldn't recall the name for sure, but gave a good enough description and a guess at the approximate timeframe that I was able to find it for him - the "Mini-ROD." Bob is planning on building a lot of the Tenderfoot series of models that appeared monthly back in the era.

Jetex Skystreak

Jetex Skystreak - Airplanes and RocketsSteve O. wrote asking if I had any information on the Skystreak model made for the Jetex engine. It had a lightweight molded plastic airframe modeled after the Douglas D558-1 Skystreak  with a motor clip on the bottom. Rather than being designed to actually fly, it was intended to "fly" along a string stretched taut between two supports. Those aluminum bushings in the nose and tail accommodate the line. Evidently these things are very difficult to obtain, but Steve managed to get one. He was kind enough to send me some photos of his prize.

Missy DARA QM Article & Plans

Missy DARA QM Article & Plans - Airplanes and RocketsAirplanes and Rockets visitor Dave J. wrote to ask that I post this article on the Missy DARA quarter midget racer that appeared in the April 1974 edition of American Aircraft Modeler. I offer to do this for people at no charge as time permits, so please don't offer to pay me. Also, I usually post a scan of the plans, but if you are going to build the model, I highly recommend buying a set from the AMAM Plans Service if they are still available. The AMA will scale the plans to any size you need, so you're not locked into the original wingspan.

Dee-Bee Semi-Scale R/C from January 1968 AAM

Dee-Bee Plans (January 1968 American Aircraft Modeler) - Airplanes and RocketsHere is the article and plans for the Dee-Bee semi-scale R/C model that I electronically scanned from my purchased copy of the January 1968 American Aircraft Modeler magazine. You might be able to scale up the images below if plans are no longer available. Plans for this fine model were designed and drawn by Mr. Dario Brisighella.

A Tale of Miss Fortune III - Nov 1946 Air Trails

A Tale of Miss Fortune III Article & Plans (November 1946 Air Trails) - Airplanes and RocketsHere is my first scan/OCR from Air Trails!br>This article for the Miss Fortune III really does a great job illustrating the thought and planning that goes into creating a model that conforms precisely to contest requirements for size, weight, configuration, etc.,  while incorporating original methods and components to maximize effectiveness. Modeling took a hit during World War II because of the shortage of raw materials and the need for rationing. Balsa was used extensively for air-dropped supply pallets because of its light weight, strength, and shock absorption properties. Rubber was in high demand for vehicle... <more>

For the Tenderfoot: Stringless Wonder

Stringless Wonder Article & Plans (April 1971 American Aircraft Modeler) - Airplanes and RocketsWebsite visitor Truman C. wrote to ask me to post the article for the Stringless Wonder free flight model that appeared in the April 1971 edition of American Aircraft Modeler. AMA still sells the plans for a mere $3 through their AMA Plans Service. Bill Hannan's motivation for designing this model, AKA "Ben Franklin's Revenge," is quite interesting. Read the article to find out why. 

Free 3-View for Beechcraft Model 17 Staggerwing

Free 3-View for Beechcraft Staggerwing - Airplanes and RocketsThis 3-view for the a Beechcraft Model 17 Staggerwing is being offered free of charge from Model Airplane News. "We became more than just a little excited when we discovered we had complete sets of the original pen- and-ink drawings of the very first, fixed-gear Model 17 (Staggerwing) Beechcraft from the master, William Wylam. These are superb collector’s items!"

Engine Idling Secrets

Engine Idling Secrets, November 1962 American Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsThis treatise on engine idling techniques is yet another example of how extensive and detailed model aircraft magazine articles used to be. Maybe refinement in design and production has, over time, yielded engines that are easier to start and and adjust, and are more reliable in general, but there are plenty of older engines still in operation, whose owners could benefit handsomely from the advice offered in this column. It has been my experience that even the newer engines - particularly those typically purchased by those of us on a limited modeling budget - still exhibit strange operation at times, so unless you always buy the best engines on the market, read on... you'll be glad you did.

Autonomous R/C Helicopter Aerobatics

Autonomous R/C Helicopter Aerobatics - Airplanes and RocketsAnyone following the development of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for the last decade of so knows about the incredible advances that have been made in airframes, propulsion, communications, and autonomous flight. One of the latest video to hit the Internet is this one showing an R/C helicopter that has been programmed to fly 3-D aerobatics without a human pilot. For those of you who routinely fly these maneuvers, it might not seem like such a noteworthy feat, and maybe it's not for the human brain, eyes, ears, and fingers, but take a look at some of the mathematics that are governing what you  <more>

Skyrida Free-Flight for PeeWee .020

Skyrida (Octoberl 1969 American Aircraft Modeler) - Airplanes and RocketsWebsite visitor Bob H. of Salt Lake City, Utah, wrote to request that I scan and post this PeeWee .020-powered free flight model that appeared in the October 1969 edition of American Aircraft Modeler, called "Skyrida." Bob remembered seeing it in the magazine when he was a kid and hands decided now that he is back into model airplanes, it would be nice to try his hand at one. Model airframes are not all that Bob builds, however; he also likes to build the engines that power them. Hopefully, one day a photo of his model Skyrida and his engine will grace this page.

This NATS Was for the Birds - NARAM 4

This NATS Was for the Birds, NRAM 4 - Airplanes and RocketsIn 1962 when this Fourth National Model Rocket Championships was held, I hadn't quite flown my first Estes model rocket; I was only four years old. However, it wasn't too long thereafter that the bug bit me and I was building and launching (and often losing) as many model rockets as my meager budget allowed for. I remember seeing pictures in model magazines like this 1962 American Modeler of big, open space where a body could launch the largest model rockets available in the day, and stand a reasonably good chance of recovering it without having to climb a 50' pine tree or  <more>

TheSkyX First Light Edition Update Really Nice

TheSkyX First Light Edition Update - Airplanes and RocketsIf you are an amateur astronomer who received a copy of Software Bisque's TheSkyX First Light software with your telescope, you will definitely want to download the latest update (v 10.1.11, on 9/16/2011). It not only fixed the issue with some labels not being displayed when "Smooth Text" is enabled, but added a few nice features, like now being able to pan around the sky using the left mouse. I don't recall if it was there before, but now there is a "What's Up" function that lists all the objects in view for your location/time, and when you click on something in the list, a green laser points to the object for easily finding it in the map!

Adding Power to Plastic Scale Planes

Adding Power to Plastic Scale Planes (November 1962 American Modeler) - Airplanes and RocketsIt's an interesting concept, but one inevitably doomed to failure simply due to the lack of structural integrity of the airframe. You might argue that some of the Cox plastic control line models were not much more robust than these converted static scale kits, but at least there was some flexure inherent in the Cox models. Author Don Pratt approached the project from an engineer's point of view, calculating wing and power loading, stall speed, and flight speed, and beefing up the structure in key areas. Still, he found that while success can be had on a limited basis, in the long run it just is not worth the effort (IMHO). One of today's powerful, lightweight brushless motors and a LiPo battery might work out better since  <more>

SSP-5: 5th Generation R/C Heli

SSP-5 from the March 1973 American Aircraft Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsGene Rock was a pioneer in precision radio-controlled helicopter design. His 5th generation SSP helicopter (SSP-5) is detailed in this article form the March 1973 American Aircraft modeler. Fixed pitch on the main rotors was still de rigueur in R/C copters, but Gene did yeoman's work on dynamic tail rotor compensation, model helicopter flight dynamics, system minimization (the KISS principle), balance, fuel delivery, and much more. Still, just as the brilliance of IBM's engineers who designed the Selectric typewriters have largely disappeared from memory due to the invention of computers, with only the keyboard as the surviving remnant, so too has a lot of this hard-won technology been replaced with  <more>

Navy Host to Most Exciting Air-Model Nationals

Navy Host to Most Exciting Air-Model Nationals - Airplanes and Rockets"Though 1962 will be remembered as the year R/C Scale came of age, it is also the year which saw fine improvement in C/L scale." That statement was made nearly 50 years ago. At the time, the number of channels for an R/C airplane was counted as double, so up and down elevator was 2 of the total channels. So, when you read about Joe Martin's 10-channel Boeing XB-47D, it does not mean the same as it would today, where channels above 4 implies retracts, flaps, bomb drops, brakes, navigation lights rotating turrets, etc. The article boasted 26 models entered - about the number of backup models the typical national-level modeler brings to each event today.

Guillow's Spitfire in Flight

Guillow's Supermarine Spitfire - Airplanes and RocketsTom Eastlake just sent a few more photos of his Guillow's Spitfire in flight - very cool. It's hard to believe this is Tom's first attempt at free flight scale.

NASA Engineer Develops Servo-Tab Control
for Rubber-Powered R/C

NASA Engineer Develops Servo-Tab Control for Rubber-Powered R/C - Airplanes and RocketsA couple years ago I experimented with adding rudder control to my Comet Sparky via a radio control system salvaged from an Estes Sky Ranger model... This article from the September/October 1965 edition of American modeler proves that the idea has been around for a long time. Even in 1965 people were lamenting the disappearance of wide-open spaces for flying free flight models (unless you live in the Midwest or Southwest deserts). Mr. Phillips' airborne system boasted  <more>

Milestone in Mankato: Ninth Rocketry Nats

Miss Connie Stine, now Mrs. Doug Ball - Airplanes and RocketsUpdate: Every once in a while I'll get a surprising letter from somebody that found himself/herself or somebody he/she knows in one of the old articles that I publish on the Airplanes and Rockets website. I always ask for permission to reprint all or parts of the letters on the associated page. This time, it was Mr. Doug Ball, who, with NAR membership number 9338, has been involved with model rocketry for quite a while. Doug is now an engineer at Boeing. Read his letter that answers the question I posed above. "Kirt, on your website you ask about where some of those young rocket  <more>