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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.

Plastic Scale Model Kits - Airplanes and Rockets

- 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 -

• 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

• Electric Vehicles Are Booming in 2021

• Virgin Galactic Completes 1st Fully-Crewed Spaceflight

• Trailblazing Woman Pilot, 82, to Fly into Space with Bezos

• Pilots Protest Belarus Military Hijacking of Ryanair Flight 4978

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...

Aviation Tech We Wish We Had...

Aviation Tech We Wish We Had... - Airplanes and Rockets"We posed a simple question to top people in a few leading aviation companies and asked - regulations, market impacts, and investment aside - how can technology improve aviation and what should be commonplace that we don't currently have? The answers were interesting, insightful, and surprisingly consistent. Connectivity Our lives nearly depend on connectivity. Work, communication, social interactions, home management, and virtually everything in our world rely on sharing information with other people and other devices. Except in the aircraft. With limited exceptions our aircraft remain black holes of connectivity. We have radios and receive GPS signals, but until you get into large business jets and airlines, other communication and information sharing is sparse at best. Maybe because of marketing to business jet owners..."

59 Nats Hailed Great Success

'59 Nats Hailed Great Success (July 1959 Model Aviation News Bulletin) - Airplanes and RocketsHere is a report on the 1959 Nats, aka the 28th National Model Airplane Championships, held at Los Alamitos Naval Air Station, California. For those not familiar with the early Nats, the U.S. Navy used to sponsor and host the entire show primarily because it was considered a good recruitment tool for young men of a necessarily competitive nature. Their hopes were that those guys would see really cool stuff at the base and anxiously anticipate the day when they could join. Some time in the late 1960s, the attendance by youngsters was so low that the Navy decided to pull its support. Bill Winter managed to talk them into staying for a few more years after promising to work to bring youth participation back up, but, alas, it did not last...

Model Airplanes from Sears and JCPenny Christmas Wish Books

Model Airplanes from Sears and JCPenny Christmas Wish Books - Airplanes and RocketsPerusing through some old Christmas Wish Book issues printed by the likes of Sears, Ward, JC Penny, Spiegel, etc., turned up quite a few model airplane types. Joe Ott and Comets stick and tissues kits were available as were Cleveland as static display models. Many fuel-powered, ready-to-fly models that pre-dated the Cox line used the Wen Mac .049 engines with much-heralded "Rotomatic," "Cyclomatic," and "Flexomatic" starters, which were variations on the simple spring type starter used by Cox. One particularly interesting item is the "Remote Control Unit" that appeared in the 1958 Wards catalog for control line airplanes. It allowed the pilot to operate controls from outside the flying circle. I'm guessing no beginner ever got one of those to work - it was unlikely enough that he would be successful holding the handle from inside the circle...

Thomas W. Haas We All Fly Gallery

Thomas W. Haas We All Fly Gallery - Airplanes and Rockets"A new gallery in the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum devoted to the largest category of human activity in the air - general aviation. Scheduled to open in 2022, the Thomas W. Haas We All Fly gallery will help define the wide world of general aviation and, through interactive exhibits and audiovisual displays, explore its impact on everyday life and how it has influenced society. Most people experience flight aboard airliners, and a great many have flown in military aircraft. General aviation is everything else - private pilots who fly for fun and those who, like Mock, set records; performers who fly aerobatics and compete in races; and professional pilots who fly for all kinds of practical reasons other than fighting wars or moving cargo..."

Russian Modelers Seek Service in Salt Mines!

Russian Modelers Seek Service in Salt Mines!, November/December 1963 American Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsThis short tongue-in-cheek article about the use of salt mines in Communist countries like Romania for indoor free flight contests was appeared in a 1963 issue of American Modeler magazine, at a time when the Cold War was in full swing, your neighbor might have built a nuclear shelter in his back yard, and kids practiced getting under their desks in the event of a wave of incoming ICMBs tipped with MIRVs. In fact, the FAI world championships have been held in Romanian salt mines a few times, and they will return there in 2014. BTW, for those too young to remember, it used to be a common joke to talk about sending someone to the Siberian salt mines as a form of punishment...

Peanuts Toys from the 1969 Sears Christmas Wish Book

Peanuts Toys - Featuring Snoopy the Astronaut from the 1969 Sears Christmas Wish Book - Airplanes and RocketsHere on page 541 of the Sears 1969 Christmas Wish Book is a wide selection of Peanuts paraphernalia, including books, calendars, ribbons, coloring books, hand bags, and Snoopy the Astronaut dolls. If you look for the authentic Astronaut Snoopy dolls (item #4 in the photo) today on eBay, you'll find that they regularly sell for $250 or more. I've been a big Peanuts fan for all my life (more than 60 years, sigh), and I have a few collectibles, but nothing worth much - a few old comic strip books, and some glasses/mugs. I have all the fairly recent biographies on Charles Schulz, which provide an interesting insight into his childhood, WWII Army years, and career path from working as an art instructor up to his final years drawing Peanuts...


Wisecrack-Ups, February 1941 Flying Aces - Airplanes and RocketsA little levity is good comic relief from the burdens of the day. These half-dozen quips from a 1941 edition of Flying Aces magazine are the perfect pick-me-up for an otherwise mundane day... as well as for an otherwise good day! You will probably notice that the style of humor is a different than what would be seen today. Other magazine of the era, like The Saturday Evening Post, often contained short pieces interspersed throughout the pages with similar odd-sounding poems and quips...

Standard Aircraft Company Model "J"

Standard Aircraft Company Model "J" Drawings, January 1955 Model Airplane News - Airplanes and RocketsIf the Standard Aircraft Company's model Standard "J" looks a lot like the Curtiss JN−4 "Jenny," there's a good reason - it was manufactured to supplement the Army's urgent need for trainer planes. Its two-seater configuration provided the student-instructor accommodation not available in the high-powered, single-seat fighter and patrol aircraft. The January 1955 issue of Model Airplanes News magazine contained a two-page spread of some of the most highly detailed line drawings you will find of the Standard "J," inked by Willis L. Nye. Mr. Nye produced many such fine quality drawings for both model airplane and professional aeronautical magazines...

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