Du-Bro's Whirlybird 505 was the first successful
commercial helicopter kit (although successful is a relative term as applied here).
I was fortunate as a kid in Holly Hill Harbor, Mayo, Maryland, because there was
a man down the street from me who was an avid radio control modeler and seemed to
buy just about every new type of radio, engine, and kit available. I would anxiously
await the sound of an engine running, and instantly jump on my bicycle to ride down
and see what he was doing. The strange thing about it was that he had three step-sons
who were notoriously bad actors who counted it as sport to harass and occasionally
beat up guys like me, so I always approached the yard with a bit of trepidation.
The gentleman himself was very nice, and a few times even gave me...
Thimble Drone - later to become Cox - sold
its first ready-to-fly control line model, the
Thimble Drome TD-1, beginning
around 1959. Reports have it that the original selling price was $9.99, which according
to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' inflation calculator, is about $95 in year
2021 dollars. The wings were of built-up construction with ribs and thin, molded
sheets of aluminum skins. A modified Space Bug .049 engine was used for power. There
was no spring starter on the early .049 engines, but a rubber finger guard was provided
to help spare the modeler's finger...
controversy brews over the merits of breeding plants that glow like a lightning
bug. Proponents say
glowing trees could eventually replace electric street lights, thereby reducing
pollution created by generating stations. Opponents say messing around with tree
genes is dangerous and should be disallowed since it could lead to unanticipated
environmental ramifications on both plant and animal species. The unique aspect
of this effort is that it is being pursued primarily by genetic hobbyists rather
than corporations - at least for now. There is bound to be a huge financial potential
for such a copyrighted line of plants. My opposition to the concept is primarily
a concern for light pollution projected skyward. Astronomers have a difficult enough
time with ever-encroaching sources of ambient light...
During World War II, Germany terrorized
Europe with it
rocket bombs, most notably the V−1 Buzz Bomb and the V−2 Rocket. The "V" prefix,
BTW, stands for Vergeltungswaffe, translated as "vengeance weapon," or "retribution
weapon." Both "vengeance" and "retribution" are really misnomers since it was Germany
that was the aggressor in both WWI and WWII. The vengeance or retribution in Hitler's
view was likely the punishment and restrictions imposed on Germany by the Treaty
of Versailles for its vicious and inhumane behavior before and during World War I.
History shows they doubled down on it during World War II. But I digress. This
1946 article in Radio−Craft magazine proposes a scheme for a "radar rocket"
system that could detect, acquire, and intercept an enemy rocket bomb in flight
- a concept that was never really successful until the Patriot Missile...
This is yet another of my unrealized lifelong
ambitions - building and flying an
autogyro. The state of the art has advanced significantly since the early garage-based
and corporate experimenters. Companies such as Autogyro USA sells a number of models
for private pilots with both open and fully enclosed cockpits. The Bensen Autogyro
was the craft du jour in the 1970s, with articles appearing in all the handyman
and airplane magazines of the day. My appetite was sufficiently whetted, albeit
well beyond the means of my meager paycheck. I vowed to build one when my finances
would allow. I'm going on 52 still waiting. There are quite a few model autogyros
flying with plenty of plans and a kit or two available if you would like to build
This triad of
comics appeared in the February 1941 issue of Flying Aces magazine. They are
a bit on the goofy side, but keep in mind what a novelty airplanes and parachutes
and such were even in the 1930s and early 1940s. Humor style was markedly different
in the day overall as well, so what passed as clever then might not be considered
equally clever today. That being said, don't pass up these comics - they might be
just the does of lightheartedness you need at the moment...
"University of Central Florida researchers
are building on their technology that could pave the way for
hypersonic flight, such as travel from New York to Los Angeles in under 30 minutes.
In their latest research published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences, the researchers discovered a way to stabilize the detonation
needed for hypersonic propulsion by creating a special hypersonic reaction chamber
for jet engines. 'There is an intensifying international effort to develop robust
propulsion systems for hypersonic and supersonic flight that would allow flight
through our atmosphere at very high speeds and also allow efficient entry and exit
from planetary atmospheres..."
You might expect this "Flying
Broomstick" article to be about one of the many novelty witch-on-a-broomstick
models that typically appear in September or October issues of model airplane magazines,
but in this case it is simply a contest-worthy Class C rubber free flight job.
The fuselage has a slight resemblance to an old wooden broomstick, but the similarity
pretty much stops there. The hollow tubular fuselage made of rolled 1/16"' balsa
holds 18 strands of rubber. Semi-elliptical shaped wings with a gull type dihedral
give it unique look. Per designer / builder Kukuvich, "Flights of 2 min., 30 sec.,
are common in "dead air" and are accomplished without the help of risers..."
As with model airplanes, if you wanted to
enjoy the hobby of
back in the 1960s when this article appeared in American Modeler magazine,
you had to be willing to tackle building your own model either from a kit or from
plans. Ready-to-run boats were a relative rarity. Having built half a dozen model
boats myself, including nitro and wind powered types, boats require a bit more work
than an equivalent level of airplane because working with birch and mahogany plywood
and various other-than-balsa woods is more difficult when bending, forming, and
sanding. Nothing makes you appreciate carving and sanding a balsa block like trying
to do the same on a piece of soft pine (or worse, something like maple or teak).
Radio control was well established by the 1960s...
This is kind of an unusual story for a TV
news outlet, but glad to see it: "Which
model airplane kit is best? Model airplane kits come in a vast variety of styles
and detailed constructions. They aren't just a few wooden planks that click together
and barely float anymore. They can be almost exact to scale replicas that can be
radio-controlled. Model airplane kits are for all ages and can be a wonderful bonding
experience when putting them together with family and friends. The best model airplane
kit is the Guillow's P-51 Mustang, perfect for those seeking a touch of challenge
and plenty of detail in their builds. What to know before you buy a model airplane
kit. Who it's for. There are all sorts of different model airplane kits, some of
which are better suited to certain intended uses. If the model airplane is intended..."
This is pretty cool. A recruitment ad for
the U.S. Air Force appeared in the March 1961 issue of American Modeler
magazine showing the type of
precision approach radar (PAR) that I worked on while in the service. It was
part of the AN/MPN−14 Landing Control Central system which was a mobile combat unit
consisting of airport surveillance radar (ASR) and PAR primary radar, a TPX−42 Identification
Friend or Foe (IFF) synthetic radar, an AN/GPA−131 data mapper, and AN/ARC−? VHF/UHF
radios. Alignment of the display for glide slope (top) and course line (bottom),
and mile markers, was a complicated procedure involving twisting multiple interdependent
control knobs until the sweeps met with a template. It was not a raster type sweep
like a vintage CRT television, but like a old fashioned oscilloscope sweep instead
where x-y data was fed to the deflection coils...
Every month in Model Aviation, the
AMA's monthly publication, there is a "Safety" column that reports on model-related
accidents and issues like not charging Li−Po batteries in appropriate containers,
not smoking around glow fuel and gasoline, not flipping your propeller with a bare
finger, etc. Many moons ago the big safety concern was not flying control line models
too near to high voltage power lines. This photo from the April 1957 edition of
American Modeler shows some guy attempting to retrieve a radio control
model from its landing spot
a set of telegraph wires. He is standing on a barbed wire fence using a wooden
pole to prod it off the lines. The captions asks, "Who knows line voltage?"
"In an enduring image of the Second World
War, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe,
huddled with members of the 101st Airborne Division on the eve of D-Day. Later he
watched as a procession of C-47s took off carrying numerous paratroopers, many of
whom died later that night. Eisenhower and his companions saluted each plane. 'It
was a painfully moving and exhilarating experience,' his biographer Carlos D'Este
wrote, 'and the closest he would come to being one of them.' In fact, Eisenhower
did know a little of the terror and thrill of flight. There were near-crashes as
he learned to pilot a Stearman trainer. 'Because I was
learning to fly at the age of forty-six,' Eisenhower wrote, 'my reflexes were
slower than those of younger men.' Once, a sandbag jammed the control stick..."
Believe it or not, there are still some people
who scratch build their own model airplanes or build kits that require bending and
even soldering music wire for
making landing gear. I fall into that category, although I occasionally buy
a pre-built model to use while projects are on the building board. This article
from a 1954 Air Trails has some handy tips and illustrations to help someone
doing doing landing gears for the first time and maybe even for seasoned landing
gear builders. In fact, after reading this article, I implemented step #8 that shows
a good way to assure that the wheel retaining washer is soldered perpendicular to
the axel. If you do not use a jig of some sort, the surface tension of the molten
solder tends to pull the washer askew because of the proximity of the bend in the
wire between the wheel axel and where it leads up to the fuselage. The phenomenon
occurs because the natural action of the solder is to minimize surface tension everywhere...
The October 1950 issue of Air Trails
magazine did a duo-feature on Henri Delanne and his
Duo-Monoplane designs. This article reports on the life and accomplishments
of Delanne and his out-of-the-box concept of what an airplane should look like.
While not quite canards, they did have the wing far back on the fuselage, and larger
than usual horizontal stabilizer surfaces (essentially a second wing - almost a
biplane with sever staggering) and dual vertical fins. Flying surfaces were so close
to each other that airflow from the forward wing had to profoundly affect the rearward
wing. Wind tunnels, pioneered by Wilbur and Orville Wright, were available for study
of such configurations, but it would be very interesting to see on of Delannes Duo-Monoplanes
modeled on a modern software simulator using computational fluid dynamics algorithms...