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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 ...

Copyright

1996 - 2026

Webmaster:

Kirt Blattenberger

BSEE - KB3UON

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

Model Aviation Magazine, AMA - Airplanes and Rockets

- Welcome to the Airplanes & Rockets Website -

"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." Lord Kelvin, 1895

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Model Aviation & Aerospace Headline News

Tech Industry Headlines - RF Cafe- Archives -

• Latest Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) Measurements • Model Airplane Builders / Pilots Doubled Down Throughout Wuhan Flu Plandemic

• Saskatchewan Model Aircraft Show Returns to Skies for 2021 • Propulsion System Could Enable Mach 17 Speed • WV Airports Add >$1.6B to State's Economy

• NASA Clears Boeing Starliner for 2nd Unpiloted Test Flight

• Women in Aviation Announces 2022 Scholarships

• NASA Selects 2 Venus Missions for Launch

• Chinese Astronauts Complete 1st Spacewalk at New Space Station

• Drone Use in Today's Society

Du-Bro's Whirlybird 505 R/C Helicopter

Du-Bro's Whirlybird 505 R/C Helicopter, November 1972 American Aircraft Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsDu-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 Drome TD-1 Control Line Airplane

Thimble Drome TD-1 Control Line Airplane - Airplanes and RocketsThimble 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...

Glowing Trees a Problem for Astronomy

Glowing Trees a Problem for Astronomy - RF CafeA 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...

Radar Rockets

Radar Rockets, July 1946 Radio-Craft - Airplanes and RocketsDuring 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...

More of Those Fabulous Mini-Copters

More of Those Fabulous Mini-Copters (January 1957 American Modeler Magazine) - Airplanes and RocketsThis 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 one...

Model Airplane Theme Comics of Yore

Model Airplane Theme Comics of Yore, February 1941 Flying Aces Magazines (page 11) - Airplanes and RocketsThis triad of model airplane-themed 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...

Propulsion System Could Enable Mach 17 Speed

Propulsion System Could Enable Mach 17 Speed - Airplanes and Rockets"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..."

Here's a Flying "Broomstick"

Here's a Flying "Broomstick" - Article and Plans, January 1941 Flying Aces - Airplanes and RocketsYou 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..."

Model Boating Aquativities

Model Boating Aquativities (July/August 1963 American Modeler) - Airplanes and RocketsAs with model airplanes, if you wanted to enjoy the hobby of model boating 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...

Best Model Airplane Kits

Best Model Airplane Kits - Airplanes and RocketsThis 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..."

U.S. Air Force - Precision Approach Radar

U.S. Air Force Recruitment - Precision Approach Radar, March 1961 American Modeler Magazine - Airplanes and RocketsThis 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...

How NOT to Retrieve a Model

How NOT to Retrieve a Model, from April 1957 American Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsEvery 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 atop 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?"

Dwight D. Eisenhower Private Pilot Certificate

Dwight D. Eisenhower Private Pilot Certificate - Airplanes and Rockets"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..."

Model Plane Landing Gears

Model Plane Landing Gears, December 1954 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsBelieve 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...

Delanne and His Duo-Monoplanes

Delanne and His Duo-Monoplanes, October 1950 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsThe 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...


Modeling Resources

Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) - Airplanes and Rockets

Academy of Model

Aeronautics

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