American Modeler published
stories on many forms of modeling including airplanes, cars, boats, and rockets.
A lot of attention was paid to teenagers in order to encourage a pursuit of careers
in engineering and science. In case you don't know, the U.S. Navy used to sponsor
the AMA Nationals specifically to attract young modelers into the service. This
1957 edition reports on the activities of James M. Blackmon, Jr., who was the
nation's youngest rocket builder to receive national recognition
by the American Rocket Society. He built in his basement a 6' tall liquid-fueled
rocket model. Fortunately for him, his parents and the CAA (now the FAA) put the
kibosh on the flight testing before a potential hazard could emerge. Lots of kids
lost fingers and eyes to such experimentation prior to Estes introducing solid propellant
rocket motors. Nevertheless, Jim's efforts attracted the attention of U.S. Army's
Redstone Arsenal personnel in Huntsville, Alabama, and he even talked with Dr. Werner
Here's the place where all good glue-men gather
- put the lid on-the dope jar while we bring you up to date on what's cookin' in
the world of modeling
Several unusual model clubs are covered in this issue. You've probably noted
the report on the Park's Cloud Hounds groups by Russ Nichols. Below we have the
flying slip-stick emblem of Purdue's Aeromodelers.
This organization was established in the late thirties by students, among them
the well-known Jim Cahill, international Wakefield champion. Active ever since,
the Aeromodelers have their own club workshop complete with construction desks and
power tools. Business meetings are held one night each week; members have access
to the clubroom-building shop at all times.
New officers are elected for every school term;
the club is sponsored by the Purdue Memorial Union. Activities cover all phases
of model building; the Aero-modelers hold contests for all categories, with emphasis
on hand-launched gliders, free flight and U-Control. During the winter months their
flying is conducted indoors in both the Purdue University armory and field house.
Chartered by the A.M.A., Aero-modelers have held numerous national records.
We Like You to Meet. This month we want you to shake hands with
James M. Blackmon, Jr., of Charlotte, N. C. (1815 Club Rd.). Seventeen years old,
Jim is the nation's youngest rocket builder to receive national recognition by the
American Rocket Society.
Along with this recognition, Jim received the $1,000 ARS-Chrysler Corp. science-youth
award at the ARS 11th annual meeting. This is the first prize he's ever won, but
he certainly started at the top!
First working as a rubber-powered model plane builder 10 years ago, Jim became
interested in rocketry, started reading every thing he could get hold of on the
subject. In fact, he says, he pretty near memorized Zim's "Rockets and Jets" book!
When he was in the 9th grade science class he decided to really dig into the
subject. Eventually he began working on small size rockets. Last summer he turned
out a 6-foot "bird" in his basement shop. He was planning to fire it from a farm
outside Charlotte when the Civil Aeronautics Administration heard of his intent
and ruled it would violate air regulations. (All junior rocketeers, please note.)
Army missile experts were intrigued by his rocket and offered to examine it at
the Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Ala., center of the Army's missile activity. The
fundamental design and engineering in the home-make rocket were highly praised by
the military missile scientists.
Unfortunately, it was found that Jimmy's basement workshop could not turn out
the necessary material for control and mixing of the liquid nitrogen, gasoline and
liquid oxygen which were to propel the rocket and it was "grounded."
In describing his rocket, Jim says, "Its nose is a $5 metallic lampshade. Each
of the fuel tanks has its own valves and gauges. The combustion chamber is 6" long
and 2" in diameter." He installed a dry ice cooling system to keep the aluminum
nose cone from melting under the 3,000° (C.) temperature it would reach in flight.
That lampshade had the Army's missile experts stumped until Jim told them what
it was. "We wondered how in the world a youngster had machined it," one Redstone
scientist said, "then he told us it was made from a modernistic aluminum lampshade.
"We spend thousands of dollars and use all kinds of complicated formulae to determine
the exact curve of the warhead - Jimmy started with the best warhead he could find
and then built the rest of the rocket around. it."
Although his first rocket was grounded, Jim's disappointment was eased by the
offer of a post-college job at Redstone and the lengthy talks he had with such authorities
as Dr. Werner von Braun, one of the creators of the German V-2 and now director
of development operations for the Army's ballistic missile agency at Huntsville.
Rocketman Blackmon graduates this year from
where he is president of the Chess Club, Science Club veep and a member of the German
Club. When we talked with him he was undecided whether to try for M.I.T. or Cal-Tech.
"Depends," he said, "on which has the best program available in the missile field
when I finish up at Phillips."
From rubber-powered models to missiles from a 59c kit to a $1,000 award, is quite
a jump. But we predict you'll be hearing more from ex-modeler Blackmon as time zips
Also 2 years old is Westminster, Maryland
Flying Groundhogs club. Wings are yellow, plane red, brown animal.
Club emblem from Cleveland in red, white, black; Cleveland Airfoilers are 26,
2 years old.
Purdue University club has white slide rule, gold wings. (We pay $10 for designs
Each issue we list all coming competitions. Notice of these should be sent to
American Modeler at least 90 days in advance. List also special hobby shows, model
exhibitions, R/C get-togethers, technical sessions, "open house" gatherings, and
other events of direct interest to readers.
Send listings to "Contest Calendar," care of this magazine.
OHIO-Toledo. March 9. R/C Convention sponsored by R/C Club of Detroit and Weak
Signals of Toledo.
Noon to 11 pm
Posted December 28, 2013