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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 ...


1996 - 2026


Kirt Blattenberger


Family Websites:

RF Cafe | Equine Kingdom

All trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other rights of ownership to images and text used on the Airplanes and Rockets website are hereby acknowledged.

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


Model Aviation & Aerospace Headline News

Tech Industry Headlines - RF Cafe- Archives -

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Big Twin R/C Outboard Motorboat

Big Twin R/C Outboard Motorboat, May 1957 American Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsAirplanes and Rockets visitor Kevin B. requested that I scan and post this article on the "Big Twin" R/C outboard motorboat model. It appeared in the May 1957 edition of American Modeler magazine. American Modeler was one of the forerunners of today's Model Aviation (the official AMA publication), and was more all-encompassing in regards to modeling as it included model boats, cars, rockets, and trains. It also was known to occasionally have articles on full-size aircraft. Anyway, the Big Twin is 32" long and is built of traditional model boating materials like mahogany plywood and spruce. This model's claim to fame is the use of balsa planking on the hull - which is much easier to form than spruce - and then a layer of fiberglass is laid over it for strength and waterproofing. An Allyn Twin outboard motor is specified for power...

SpaceX's Starbase to Launch 100s of Rockets a Year

SpaceX's Starbase to Launch 100s of Rockets a Year - Airplanes and Rockets"SpaceX arrived in Boca Chica, TX, in 2014. Seven years later, thousands of company employees and contractors are working nearly around the clock to build and launch the most powerful rocket in history, called Starship. The first launch to Earth orbit could happen within the next few months. The ultimate destination is Mars. Outside the gates of Starbase, as the rapidly expanding facility is called, a mini-press corps of amateur and professional photographers watches every move. Enough cameras are pointed at Starship at any given moment that SpaceX founder Elon Musk jokes about going online whenever he wants to see how work on his new rocket is coming. runs a 24/7 YouTube channel called 'Starbase Live.' Most times all you see is a distant tableau of rocket parts, storage tanks, and gantries..."

Lightness Is a Virtue

Lightness Is a Virtue, Annual 1960 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsThese tips for building lighter, more effective model airplanes were submitted by Air Trails magazine readers in time for the 1960 Annual edition. They are all as valid and useful today as they were six decades ago. Free flight in all forms - gliders, rubber power, and gas power - are still very popular, so if you are involved in the sport, you might pick up a good idea here. Even the suggestion for using a popsicle stick for a Jetex engine mounting pad might still come in handy since they can be found on eBay (although with ever-increasing difficulty). Believe it or not Pliobond is still sold, although by the Ruscoe Company and not Goodyear. I added a touch of color to the original B&W make everything a bit more interesting...

Landing Blind - the Instrument Landing System

Landing Blind - Instrument Landing System, July 1938 Radio News - RF CafeOnly three and a half decades had passed since the Wright Brothers made the first flight of an aeroplane taking off under its own power when this "Landing Blind" article appeared in a 1938 issue of Radio News magazine. By then, an entire World War had been fought with air power having been determined to be a primary strategic force, and a commercial airline industry was thriving as travelers everywhere entrusted pilots and air traffic controllers with their very lives. The main impediment to further progress from an navigational and scheduling perspective was inclement weather. Pilots had long ago learned to fly by instruments, and taking off into nearly zero visibility was not a problem, but landing confidently and safely under the same conditions was still impossible. Aviation researchers were hard at work...

Model Car Show - 1963 American Modeler Magazine

Model Car Show (May/June 1963 American Modeler Magazine) - Airplanes and RocketsFor some reason I was never big into building model cars, although my teenage years best friend, Jerry Flynn, was. Jerry and I flew lots of model airplanes and rockets together, but he was the car modeler. Jerry had a bit of an artist's touch with models and would build top fuel dragster models from scratch using plastic sheet stock. He won a couple contests back in the 1970s at the big hot rod show held in the Washington, D.C., Armory. As a body-fender repair shop technician and eventually body shop owner, he could repair dents so perfectly that you couldn't tell the repair from the original. The models shown in this 1963 American Modeler magazine are not too far removed from the kinds of car models on the store shelves when I was a kid. A lot of the models can probably be bought today on eBay...

eCalc Electric Flight Software

 eCalc Electric Flight Software - Airplanes and RocketsThere is a very nice suite of software apps for performing electric flight calculations your PC called "eCalc." Separate performance and setup programs are provided for airplanes, helicopters, multirotors (drones), ducted fan jets, weight & balance, center of gravity, a propeller finder, and battery charging. The demo versions are free, but for full functionality a subscription ($12.95/year) is required. eCalc simulations have appeared in many modeling magazines since it first appeared more than a decade ago. Per the eCalc website: "Since 2004 eCalc provides web-based quality services to simulate, calculate, evaluate and design electric brushless motor drives for RC pilots of airplane, multi rotor, UAV, helicopter and EDF jets. eCalc's motor database is the most comprehensive on the web."

Charybdis Plans & Article - October 1972 AAM

Charybdis Plans & Article, October 1972 American Aircraft Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsFrom what I can remember, this October 1972 edition of American Aircraft Modeler magazine is the first I received after joining the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA). I was thrilled to be having a monthly modeling magazine delivered to my rural home because it was rare that a copy of Flying Models or Model Airplane News would appear on the rack in our local convenience store. Unlike today's age of instant and ubiquitous information, getting ahold of desired reading material was not nearly as easy before the Internet. Somehow, I managed to retain possession of that issue for nearly 40 years now. With few exceptions, everything else from my childhood has vanished. I remember being particularly interested in the Charybdis because it satisfied the desire for a lot of different modeling interests - helicopters, airplanes, and nitro-powered engines. In 1972 I was 14 years old and didn't have a lot of walking around money - only what I scraped as profit from my paper delivery route...

R/C Model Boats - And Aweigh They Go!

R/C Model Boats - And Aweigh They Go!, Annual 1960 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsBy 1960 when this "And Aweigh They Go!" article appeared in the Annual edition of Air Trails magazine, radio control systems had advanced to where they were providing a semblance of proportional control, were smaller in volume and weight (thanks to semiconductors rather than vacuum tubes), and were more affordable and reliable. Model engines, too, were more convenient and easier to operate thank to the advent of glow fuel and glow plugs rather than gasoline and spark ignition systems. Some modelers still employed the older equipment or a mix of old and new, but the serious contenders did then as they do now by tending to go with the latest and greatest engines, electronics, hardware, and construction techniques. The model boats featured here are examples of the latter...

Ugliest Airplane: the Transavia AirTruk

Ugliest Airplane: the Transavia AirTruk - Airplanes and Rockets"It is one of the most bizarre looking aircraft ever to reach production. Its conception occurred in Australia, its gestation in New Zealand, and its growth and maturation back in Australia. This geography, and unfettered thinking about the TransAvia AirTruk's mission, drove the airplane’s unusual appearance. In the mid-1950s, the largely agricultural country of New Zealand found itself in need of new aircraft for 'topdressing' - spreading soil enhancers and fertilizers by air - what we on this side of the world call 'cropdusting.' The old airplanes they had inherited from the British Commonwealth, mostly converted de Havilland Tiger Moths and Piper Cub-like Austers, were wearing out. A few new American designs were imported, but currency restrictions of the day made them very expensive. New Zealanders needed a locally built airplane specifically designed..."

Antique Cobbler's Bench Restoration

Antique Cobbler's Bench Restoration (Supermodel Melanie) - Airplanes and RocketsThis cobbler's bench has been in Melanie's family for a couple generations. We don't know whether it belonged to a family member who used it for as a cobbling tradesman. It was in pretty rough shape when it was given to us a couple decades ago. It is constructed of pine wood, with the main surface being about 2 inches thick. I chose to sand the finish off rather than use chemical stripper because it was fairly brittle and came off easily, and also because the wood is somewhat soft, so I did not want to risk gouging it with a scraper. One of the legs had been broken and needed repair, and some drawer joints needed re−gluing. All of the square strips on the work surface were removed for sanding to avoid dark residual finish in the corners...

The Nearly Effortless Flight of the Albatross

The Nearly Effortless Flight of the Albatross - Airplanes and RocketsThe July 2013 edition of IEEE's Spectrum magazine had a really good article on a high tech study that is being done on the manner in which an albatross manages to fly great distances and for long periods of time while rarely needing to flap its wings. As shown in the thumbnail (and in the article), an albatross performs a series of rapid climbs into very strong wind, turns, and dives leeward nearly to the water's surface, then repeats the process over and over as it makes its way to its destination. The process is called dynamic soaring. R/C soaring pilots have been doing the same sort of thing for a few years now. Obviously the albatross figured out how to fly like that long before mankind was able to mimic it, but the researchers in the article seem to not have knowledge of the R/C soaring technique. They are capturing albatrosses in their nests and attaching GPS-based sensors with data recorders to the birds' back feathers and retrieving the units when the birds return to their nests...

Phantom Motors Christmas Ad

Phantom Motors Christmas Ad, November 1946 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsPhantom Motors, out of Los Angeles, California, was one of the early manufacturers of ignition motors for model airplanes, boats, and cars. This full-page advertisement appeared in the November 1946 issue of Air Trails magazine. This particular ad had a Christmas theme, as did many of the other ads in that edition. If you do a search on eBay for vintage Phantom Motors ignition engines, not much shows up, so that probably means there were either not too many of them made, or they were not sturdy enough to survive hard landings and frequent usage so that the engines were trashed. Oh well. The $14.95 price tag in 1946 is the equivalent of $288.31 in 2021 per the BLS inflation calculator...

Model Making Offers Money Making Opportunities

Model Making Offers Money Making Opportunities (January 1957 American Modeler Magazine) - Airplanes and RocketsPrior to the advent of commonplace high-speed digital computers, designing advanced aircraft structures required a lot of effort building scale models and testing them in wind tunnels and, when possible, in actual flight. The process was both expensive and time-consuming. As computer simulations have been fine tuned, the need to build models have been nearly entirely eliminated. Modern aircraft can go from computer monitor to production with the full-size prototype being the first actual version of the plane to be built. This article from a 1957 issue of American Modeler magazine reports on some of the very labor-intensive experimental and scale models built for testing and concept verification. Many of the technicians who did the planning and building were hobbyists who were fortunate enough to gets jobs to get paid for engaging in their passion...

W9USB Third Open American Soaring Contest

W9USB Third Open American Soaring Contest, November 1940 Radio News - RF CafeThis particular article from a 1940 issue of Radio News magazine touches on two of my hobbies - airplanes and Amateur radio. Whereas most of my flying experience is with all forms of models, here is a group of Hams who provided logistical radio communications during the 3rd Open American Soaring Contest, held in Lockport, Illinois. W9USB was the call sign granted by the FCC especially for the event. Such a contest requires administration and coordination of air and ground aircraft movement, tow winch operation, pilot status, event scheduling, and emergency services if required (fortunately, none were). Being an all volunteer effort, the "Prairie Dogs" subdivision of the "Hamfesters Club" of Chicago. As pointed out in the article, the highly successful operation was a great public service demonstrating the capability and utility of Amateur radio. Many major Ham equipment manufacturers...

Coupled Aileron Ruddered System for Radio Control

"CAR: Coupled Aileron Ruddered System for Radio Control, Annual 1960 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsWhen I run across articles like this "CAR: Coupled Aileron Ruddered System for Radio Control" which appeared in the 1960 Annual issue of Air Trails magazine, I am in awe of some people for the genius, creativity, and willingness to do the hard work involved in advancing the state of the art in a given field. Not surprisingly, Maynard Hill is the author and progenitor of this - at the time - breakthrough method of combining aileron and rudder control to enable at least some semblance of coordinated turns with radio controlled model airplanes. Mr. Hill was a metallurgist in his day work at Johns Hopkins' Applied Physics Laboratory. Distance and altitude records for R/C models were among his many accomplishments. Looking at the complication of the electromechanical coupled aileron-rudder control system...

Novel Field Kit for a Free Flighter 

Novel Field Kit for a Free Flighter from August 1970 American Modeler Magazine - Airplanes and RocketsHere is novel idea from well-known free flight modeler Bill Hannan and hobby shop owner Russ Barrera. It appeared in a 1970 issue of American Aircraft Modeler magazine. The pair converted an unused transmitter case into a handy field box for use with free flight models. In addition to adding a hinge and latch to the cover, the retractable antenna sports a small wind sock for judging launch times and even a compass in place of the RF power meter to note the direction of your model as it drifts off into the wild blue yonder when the dethermalizer fails to trigger. Without the convenience of eBay, finding an unused transmitter would have been a bit difficult for most free-flighters back in the day...

Please see the Airplanes and Rockets Homepage Archives for previous items of interest...

Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) Plans Service - Airplanes and Rockets
Drones - Airplanes and Rockets
Rocket Kits + Accessories - Airplanes and Rockets
Modeling Resources

Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) - Airplanes and Rockets

Academy of Model


Tower Hobbies logo - Airplanes and Rockets

Tower Hobbies

Horizon Hobby logo - Airplanes and Rockets

Horizon Hobby

Sig Manufacturing - Airplanes and Rockets

Sig Mfg

Brodak Manufacturing - Airplanes and Rockets

Brodak Mfg