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:
Modeling News Archive:
Flying the Control Line
Control line carrier is a sport that you might think shouldn't be to hard to master, that is until you watch someone trying to land a model, hanging on the prop, on the carrier deck. There are plenty of YouTube videos of people doing just that; check a few out to see what I mean. Although I have never attempted it myself, it is easy to believe that trying to control the model at near zero forward airspeed - maybe even backwards in a stiff headwind - with no centrifugal force to keep the lines tight and the model waving in the gusts is not an easy job. Add to that the coordination needed to establish the hovering attitude in the first place, with a combination of feeding in a high throttle setting while pulling the nose up to about a 60-degree angle. Then of course there is the non-trivial task of snagging an arrestor …
Flying Wing Design Concepts
Flying wings have always been a popular design subject. The closest most of us have ever come to owning a flying wing is a combat type control line or radio control model. Flying wings are identified by a lack of separate, defined fuselage. Stability issues make flying wings a challenge, and is why they are not seen as often at the field. That goes equally for both model airplanes and full-size airplanes. In 1951, Air Trails magazine published this article on the topic of flying wings in order to help spawn an interest amongst modelers. It contains a lot of useful information that is still applicable for anyone who would like to try his hand at a flying wing. If it is possible to build a flying, controllable model of Snoopy sitting atop his dog …
Amelia Earhart's Short-Wave
Radio Never Failed
Plenty of intrigue still surrounds the July 2, 1937, disappearance of Amelia Earhart in the South Pacific on her way to completing an around-the-world flight. This article appeared two years prior to that fateful flight proclaiming the soundness of her onboard radio. Back in the day, shortwave radio installations in aircraft required long wires trailing behind, particularly for long distance requirements like flying from the U.S. mainland to Hawaii. Those wires were a constant source of trouble due to destructive mechanical oscillations while waving in the airstream, airframe damage due to striking during the haul in/out procedure, and breakage. According to an article that appeared in the January 2015 edition of Smithsonian magazine, it is suspected …
Ace Whizad Vintage
Canadian website visitor Steve S. is an avid builder and flier of vintage model airplane designs that are powered by Cox .020 and .049 engines. He has in the past submitted building and finished photos of his Quarter Pint, So-Long, and Ace Pacer models. As is evident by the many photos below and with his other models, the level of craftsmanship is quite high and so they serve as great examples to anyone in search of tips on how to properly build small R/C models. Said Steve in his e-mail, "While not a feature in AAM, (although Ace ran lots of ads for the kits from 1974 on) I recently scratch built an Ace Whizard from plans and using the foam wings that Ace supplied with the kits (wing panels still available). They were rudder only but I added elevator as well and power with a Cox Black Widow .049. It's ready to fly, the engine is …
For the Tenderfoot: Tailup
Free Flight Canard
Canards, or tail-first airplanes, were popular back in the 1970s. That was the era of the VariEze and the Long-EZ homebuilt fiberglass and foam airplanes from Burt Rutan, which fostered great interest in the modeling community. Many of the world's jet fighters were adopting the canard configuration as well. Hiram Maxim, inventor of the Maxim machine gun and father of the American Radio Relay League's (ARRL) founder Hiram Percy Maxim, experimented with a canard aircraft design in the late 1890s. Much aerodynamic information has been learned about the canard over the last century and the concept is no longer a matter of great …
Sophisticated Drones: Models
with a Mind of Their Own
Most people today, I dare say, do not think of a 'drone' as being anything like the ones presented in this article. In fact, I doubt they even think of the military versions (Reaper, Predator, Global Hawk, et al) that a decade ago were for taking out Taliban leaders as they rode in their U.S.-made, air-conditioned Humvees across the desert lands of Afghanistan. Nowadays if you mention a drone, most likely the layman will conjure up visions of a tiny quadcopter with electric motors being piloted by some overweight guy donning baggy pants and a backwards-worn baseball cap. They remember headlines of neighbors spying on neighbors with camera-equipped R/C vehicles, commercial aircraft being diverted during landing …
The DC-3: The Plane That
Changed The World
Hands down, the Douglas DC-3, and its militarized version, the C-47 Skytrain (aka 'Gooneybird') has always been my favorite twin-engined tail dragger. It, as the title of this documentary video claims, changed the world of commercial aviation by "teaching the public to fly." It was an utter success from the day of it inaugural flight in 1935. Interestingly, all stewardesses at the time were required to have nursing training as evidence of compassion and discipline. This 50-minute video does a nice job of telling the story of the DC-3.
Sketchbook - Model Building Tips
These building and finishing tips might be 60 years old, but every one of them is still useful and applicable to today's model aircraft builder. There are still a lot of guys who do the Silkspan and or tissue and dope covering method that are looking for advice since there are rarely others around anymore who are familiar with the techniques. The idea of pre-coloring trim before applying tissue is something I'd like to try sometime ... if I can remember to do it.
Airtronics Aquila Sailplane
Build from Plans Underway
I've been wanting to build another Aquila sailplane for a long time, but the cost of buying one of the vintage kits to do so was off-putting, aside from not really wanting to use up one of the few remaining collector's items still remaining. So, I took my plans to Staples and had a 105% scale version made (~105"). My longest wingspan to date is the 99" of the Aquila and the Windfree, so this seemed like a good time to break my record. The Aquila had a fair amount of special-purpose hardware in the kit that required building by alternate means. Some of the details of the build are documented here, in case anyone else wants to have a go at it …
Clough's Concluding Comments
We modelers really have an easy time of it these days if there is a much stronger desire to fly than to build, or if there is an innate inability to build well. Levels of engineering and prefabrication have reached the point that even with vehicles as complex and inherently unstable as helicopters and multirotor platforms, a model pilot wannabe can purchase just about any flying platform in a ready-to-fly configuration. Not many people back in the era when Roy Clough wrote this article even dreamed that for a couple hundred bucks it would be possible to buy a helicopter that would be able fly in a hands-off manner, but would even have an onboard computer that would bring the craft …
Great Lakes Trainer
Article & 3-View
The Great Lakes Trainer has been kitted by many manufacturers over the years. Its proportions, designed to make it stable and easy to fly in its full-size format makes it ideal for free flight, control line, or radio control. Its classic lines and a unique engine and cowling arrangement makes the Great Lakes Trainer a stand-out in any lineup of biplanes. This article is a historical insight into the airplane and offers a detailed 3-view that will serve the scale modeler who needs accurate dimensional and cross-sectional references for judges to use in scoring fidelity.
200 MPH Volkswagen"
Steve Wittman, aka 'The Grand Old Man of Air Racing,' was a prolific airplane designer, builder, and pilot. His Wittman Tailwind homebuilt airplane was very popular and proved to be fast and efficient for its size and power. The 'Formula Vee' racer, motivated by a highly modified Volkswagen engine, easily broke the 170 mph speed benchmark. Making outside-the-box tradeoffs like suffering the drag of wing bracing wires for a lighter and thinner airfoil are what made Wittman a crafty - and winning - designer. A scale model of the Wittman Vee might benefit from a slightly thicker airfoil and larger tail surfaces unless you want to have to aggressively fly the craft …
Wright Brothers Crossword
111 years ago this week (December 17, 1903), Orville and Wilbur Wright made their historic first flight whereby a human and aircraft took off and flew under its own power. The Wright Flyer, piloted by Orville, took off from rails on a dune at Kill Devil Hills, NC, and remained airborne for 120 feet before landing on the beach below. The location was chosen for the orographic lift generated by the ocean winds blowing up the sandy slopes. This week's crossword commemorates the event by incorporating many relevant terms and clues. Enjoy!
Sopwith Pup Article & Plans
A modern miniature radio control system rather than a galloping ghost setup and a brushless motor rather than a glow fuel engine would be a great combination for this scale Sopwith Pup from the June 1971 edition of American aircraft Modeler. Joe Hankes' 33" wingspan version of this World War I biplane is in the manner of the late 1960s very solidly constructed in order to withstand the grueling pounding of internal combustion engine powerplants. With a little judicious material substitution the airframe weight could be whittled down considerably …
Bristol Monoplane Scout
Article & Plans
Although originally designed and built for free flight, this fairly large scale mode of the Bristol Scout monoplane could easily be adapted for control line or radio control flying. With a wingspan of 46 inches and a robust airframe, it can withstand the rigors of aerobatic flight. Replacing the glow fuel engine with a modern brushless motor and LiPo batteries helps keep the vibration and therefore wear and tear to a minimum, and also avoids getting messy fuel all over your nice airplane. Since these plans are no longer available, you can click the one presented below to get the full resolution version. It was only …
How the V-2 Rocket
Was Wirelessly Controlled
Here I go again saying how Germany missed an opportunity - twice - to be the world's technical superpower by starting wars that numerically proved it could never win. Scientists and engineers of Deutschland designed and implemented what would be the first wirelessly guided missile for correcting the flight path of the V-2 rocket (the 'V' stood for Vergeltungswaffe, or vengeance weapon). This article from a 1945 edition of Radio News describes how a radio 'cone' was formed by a ground-based transmitter array that caused an airborne guidance system to keep the rocket on course during the boost phase of its flight. Embarrassingly, I don't recall …
Maybe I should be embarrassed to admit it, but for some reason Kenhi is not a familiar name to me. The company from Burbank, California kitted half a dozen control line stunters, the most notable of which was the Panther, by Hi Johnson. This advertisement appeared in the November 1953 edition of Air Trails. Another Kenhi model, the Cougar, is kitted today by RSM Distribution for competition in the Classic Stunt class. My BJM Enterprise-E electric control line stunter was cut and kitted by RSM, so I know they provide a quality product.
Already in 1951, a mere half decade after Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier in his Bell X-1, the world was gearing up for the new reality of supersonic warfare. Air superiority as a significant tactical advantage on the battlefield was well-established during World War II, itself only half a decade in the past at the time this article in a 1951 edition of Air Trails. The learning curve was steep but the progress fast on how to build and fly aircraft operating beyond Mach 1. Crazy phenomena like aileron control reversal came as a surprise to engineers and pilots on the bleeding edge of that technology, and were major issues that need to be dealt with and mitigate. Here is a wee bit of early history on …
Elmira's Greatest Soaring
Nationals - 1953
Elmira, New York, has long been a major soaring locale, both for full-size and radio controlled model aircraft. This 1953 article on the soaring nationals held there contains a very familiar name to anyone who followed the 'Gossamer' series of human-powered aircraft in the the 1970s and 80s - Paul MacCready. The propellers of the Condor and Albatross used propellers built up of spruce and balsa, and covered with Monokote. His company, AeroVironment, is still in operation creating breakthrough technology for aircraft of many types. Paul won the title of National Soaring Champion that year (his third time) …
My Enterprise-E C/L Stunter
Is Finally Finished!
It certainly took long enough (due to being busy with other things), but my BJM Enterprise-E is finally complete and ready for its maiden flight! With an advertised wing area of 357 in2, that works out to a wing loading of 0.0922 oz/in2 (13.3 oz/ft2). MotoCalc thinks the provided 30 A ESC is inadequate, so I'll have to be careful with the motor speed and run time. The center of gravity is exactly where indicated on the plans. Hopefully, I'll be back soon with news of a successful experience!
Cobra C/L Stunt Article & Plans
As with all highly competitive endeavors, whether they be sports, academics, or cooking, top contenders get where they are a the top of the list through indefatigable application of physical and/or mental aptitude. In events such as model aircraft building and flying, simply following the lead of others is usually not enough to attain the ultimate goal of being a world class celebrity. Such is the case of Steve Wooley and his Cobra control line stunt model. At this point in the evolution of C/L aerobatics, improvements in airframes and engines are subtle, so pilot skill be …
Jaunty Alouette Ducted Fan
Jet Control Line Model
"Jaunty Alouette" is a play on the French folk song "Gentille Alouette" (which means "nice lark"). This ducted fan control line model by Roy Clough, Jr., is the result of many evolutionary stages of ducted fan propulsion systems. Early ducted fans were basically a wide-blade, small diameter propeller placed inside a tube (duct). Not a lot of engineering went into the design to maximize efficiency. Over time, cones were placed before and after the engine and propeller (impeller, or fan) in order to direct the air mass in ways that created the greatest velocity, and hence the greatest thrust. Modern ducted fan …
Straight Talk About
Here is something you will probably never find today: a gun shooting club in a public school. As late as the 1970s when I was in high school, gun clubs were common. There were even gun clubs in New York City high schools. Members would bring their .22 rifles with them (often while riding subway trains) for use on the range and during classroom instruction. Shooting ranges used to built in the basements of urban schools that did not have outside areas for use. In the last few years, merely mentioning any kind of gun, pointing your finger like a pistol, or even biting your Pop Tart into a shape that can be perceived by a …
Carl & Jerry
Trapped in a Chimney
All three of my hobbies are contained in this episode of Carl & Jerry - electronics, astronomy, and airplanes! For as clever as the two teenagers are, they sure do manage to get themselves into some sticky situations due to what can only be termed as stupidity. This is not the first time their future relied on a fairy large number of people being 'out there' who were familiar with Morse code. Supporting the claim that trends run in cycles, the ignition-type model engine common in the mid 1950s eventually gave way to glow fuel engines, but nowadays miniature electronic ignition systems have made …
RealFlight 7.5 Now Available!
Great Planes RealFlight 7.5 with Interlink Elite Mode 2. Airplane and helicopter simulations. This price through Amazon is as good or beter as buying it through Tower Hobbies, but doing it here helps support my work on the website. Free shipping. Thank you very much!
Featured Book: Flying RC Models
Flying RC Models, by David Crocker. This Kindle e-book is about David's memories of over 50 years of flying radio controlled model airplanes. Back in the mid 1960's after finishing his education he took up his old hobby again. First he tried single channel with rubber powered compound escapements moving the rudder. One pulse for right rudder, two for left and three pulses activated the secondary escapement for a one stage change throttle setting. A one stage change meant the throttle moved from, for instance, low …
A Bird's Secret
to Handling Turbulence
University of Oxford mathematical biologist Graham K. Taylor has been studying bird flight for more than a decade using a trained steppe eagle named eagle named Cossack. For this study, Cossack wore a recording device to track the details of his flight, like speed, turns and altitude. It turns out that 'wing tucks' are used to smooth out turbulence. I've seen it done many times, but never knew the reason. This video show the maneuver.
Models of Models
Upon seeing this article I immediately thought about the famous "Triple Self Portrait" painting by Norman Rockwell. I suppose to truly be an analogy to triple object it would require building a model of a model of a full-size airplane rather than being a model of a free flight model. It's a unique concept.
RealFlight Mobile R/C Flight
Simulator - FREE!
If anything has tempted me to finally get a smartphone or a tablet, this new FREE R/C flight simulator offering by RealFlight is it! This is at the same time a great public relations campaign and a slick advertising tool to get people hooked and want to buy the full PC version (that I've had). Click one of the icons below to download the software free either for your iOS or Android device. The RealFlight Mobile app features Beginner, Intermediate & Realistic presets, a Help menu showing controls and versions, onscreen "joysticks" for easy control, volume adjustment, 2 camera modes, controller adjustments and sensitivity, physics …
Wizrod 350 Freeflight
Article & Plans
Website visitor Bob P. wrote from New Zealand to ask that I scan and post this Wizrod 350 article and plans from the July 1972 edition of American Aircraft Modeler. Wizrod 350 is a ½A freeflight job designed by Ron St. Jean. Bob has been a fan of St. Jean's models from the 1950s and 60s, and wants to see how the designs progressed into the 1970s. Billed by the author as "an uncomplicated high-performance FF power design," the Wizrod 350 would make a good subject for a vintage craft.
Electronics at Redstone Arsenal
"The fact that every part of this ship was built by the lowest bidder." That, according to Gene Kranz (NASA Flight Director during the Gemini and Apollo missions), was Alan Shepard's reply when asked what he thought about as he sat atop the Mercury Redstone rocket, waiting for liftoff. That fact that the boost vehicle, the Redstone, was originally designed as an expendable ballistic missile and not for safely launching humans into space might have had something to do with it, too. This 1957 vintage article …
Free Amateur Astronomy
There are some really excellent pieces of software available to amateur astronomers ranging in function from presenting the night sky in incredible detail and can even control your telescope (TheSkyX) to image processing (RegiStax). Screen shots and hyperlinks are given below. RegiStax is free to anyone, but to get TheSkyX free, you have to buy a Celestron telescope that bundles it with the hardware (as low as $80 for the PowerSeeker 70AZ). Stellarium is a totally free, open source sky chart program. It appears to do everything TheSkyX does, including …
Radio Robot Plane
Radio-controlled flying drones are commonplace today - so much so that the FAA has enacted legislation to strictly limit who can fly them, where they can be flown, how big they can be, what type of payloads can be carried, how far from the pilot they can be flown, etc. - the typical kind of overreaching and overregulating that governments promulgate (especially in the last few years). Sport model airplane flying has suffered loss of freedoms because of it by getting lumped in with multirotor drones. The military, of course, has been using …
How to Make Scale-Model Planes for Government Use
With the entry of the U.S. into World War II came the need for service members to be trained on many new technologies - among them being airplanes and the ability to identify them quickly. Electronics technicians and airframe & powerplant mechanics were in need, of course, but everyone had to be able to tell friend from foe when airplanes were approaching. In order to assist the war effort, a call went out to civilians to begin producing thousands of models at a 1:72 scale so that at 35' away they appeared in size to be that of a full-scale version at about half a mile …
Embry-Riddle: An Air Trails Air Career Review
"On December 17, 1925, exactly 22 years after the historic flight of the Wright Flyer, barnstormer John Paul Riddle and entrepreneur T. Higbee Embry founded the Embry-Riddle Company at Lunken Airport in Cincinnati, Ohio." So states the Embry-Riddle website. Check out the 1948-era flight line filled with Piper J-3 Cubs and Stearman biplanes! Back when I was a teenager and thought my life might be spent flying airplanes for a living - or at least as a serious hobby - my sights were firmly set on …
Curtiss Pusher Control Line Model
Here is a really nicely done Curtiss Pusher biplane model for control line. The original model had a 24" wingspan and was powered by an .049 ignition engine, but you could easily adapt it to electric power. In fact, doing so would eliminate the hassle of needing to hinge the tail boom and empennage for accommodations easier engine starting. If you elect to build the Curtiss Pusher, be prepared to do a lot of work because of the shaped wood sticks for the fuselage, the undercambered airfoil (which could be modified to flat bottom airfoil for simplicity in covering), and the flying …
A Graphical Look at Daylight Saving Time
Daylight Saving Time (DST) ends at 2:00 am local time this coming Sunday morning in most of the U.S., whereupon we return to Standard Time (ST). The event, as with the beginning of DST in March, always elicits a lot of debate over whether DST is necessary in the 21st century. I would prefer to end the inane biannual ritual for reasons illustrated in the graph I created in Excel. Daylight Saving Time is not observed everywhere across the globe, and where it is observed there are variations in when it begins and ends. In the U.S., DST begins …
Mystery Air Force
With the advantage of having had many decades pass since these wannabee airplanes were developed, it is easy to see that there are a lot of familiar shapes and configurations that are recognizable in ones that were eventually mass produced. The Martin XA-22 (and the Boeing XB-17 for that matter), for example, is the spitt'n image of the AT-6 Texan, and the XB-39 is undoubtedly the inspiration for the venerable B-17 bomber. The Douglas XB-42 Mixmaster's profile reminds one a lot of the A-10 Warthog, if you ignore the ...
Auto Progress Memory Lane Collection
In a time before massive overregulation by the government, even starting your own car manufacturing business was a lot simpler. In the early part of the 20th century there were dozens of independent car companies that vied for the hard-earned money of a public growing increasingly demanding of modern conveniences both in the home and outdoors. Unlike recent history where an overreaching government decides who the winners (e.g., Chevrolet - aka Obama Motors) and losers (e.g., Pontiac) are, market forces (i.e., the public) decided which companies deserved to thrive and which ...
"Squeaker" Class A Speed Plane
Control line speed models do not appear very often in modeling magazines, and as far as I know you cannot buy a manufactured kit for one, so when I run across an article it gets posted. C/L speed is an event where, assuming you can proficiently fly an airplane in level flight, your success is most dependent on your skill as an airframe builder and an engine mechanic. I have never witnessed a control line speed model flying in real life, but there are a few on YouTube that show the rigorous couple minutes a speed flyer spends in the center of the flying circle. One of the coolest ...