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Home Page Archive (page 31)

These archive pages are provided in order to make it easier for you to find items that you remember seeing on the Airplanes and Rockets homepage. Of course probably the easiest way to find anything on the website is to use the "Search AAR" box at the top of every page.

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Owl Racer w/3-View

Owl Racer w/3-View, April 1971 American Aircraft Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsAuthor Don Berliner claims in this April 19711 issue of American Aircraft modeler magazine that, "[The Owl Racer] is the easiest racer to model for RC pylon." Curiously, given that claim, no plans were published for it, but there are 3-views. Designer George Owl (I kid you not) applied knowledge gained from the School of Hard Knocks in the field of airplane racing on top of his ample experience with "brains-and-slide-rule" design to create this winning craft. Did you catch that? "Brains-and-slide-rule." Is that Flo from Progressive Insurance starting the airplane?

A Mechanical Brain for Catching Thermals

A Mechanical Brain for Catching Thermals, Model Annual 1956 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsOn a whole, free flight fliers seem to have always been way ahead of the aerodynamic knowledge curve than control line fliers and radio control fliers - especially when it comes to competition. All modelers are concerned with the basics of stable flight by building straight airframes with the proper center of gravity, but when you have some real-time force being applied to correct for imperfect trim, twisted wings, wind gusts, it is usually possible to obtain acceptable flights. The centrifugal force of a control line plane flying in circles, constrained by the counter poise (centripetal force) of the control lines, and the movable elevators allows the pilot to keep the model on course. Radio control with at least elevator and rudder and/or aileron can, with the input of a skilled pilot, compensate for a host of aerodynamic perturbations that would otherwise upset the flight path. Author Donald Foote in this "A Mechanical Brain for Catching Thermals" article from the 1956 Annual edition of Air Trails magazine does a great job of imparting knowledge on how to configure a free flight model to seek out and exploit thermals. He explains the physics behind a swept wing's ability to automatically turn toward rising air...

NASA's X-59's Patriotic Paint Job

NASA's X-59's Patriotic Paint Job - Airplanes and Rockets"The X-59, part of NASA's Quesst mission, is undergoing painting at Lockheed Martin. This aircraft aims to make supersonic flight quieter and more acceptable for overland travel. NASA's X-59 quiet supersonic aircraft continues to make progress, most recently moving to the paint barn at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works' facility in Palmdale, California. The X-59's paint scheme will include a mainly white body, a NASA 'sonic blue' underside, and red accents on the wings. The paint doesn't just add cosmetic value. It also serves a purpose - the paint helps to protect the aircraft from moisture and corrosion and includes key safety markings to assist with ground and flight operations. The aircraft made the move to the paint barn on November 14, 2023. Once it is painted, the team will take final measurements of its weight and exact shape to improve computer modeling..."

Merchant of Speed

Merchant of Speed, February 19, 1949 Saturday Evening Post - Airplanes and RocketsAsk any American what is his all-time favorite World War II fighter aircraft and the answer will most likely be the P-51 Mustang. It's sleek lines, rocket-like speed, and the guttural roar of its 12-cylinder engine creates a demanding presence whether in a museum or on an airshow flight line. That same person would also probably name the AT-6 Texan as his favorite trainer of the era, and the B-25 Mitchell as his favorite bomber. What do all three have in common? They were all designed and manufactured by North American Aviation. At the helm of the company during the era was James Howard "Dutch" Kindelberger. This story from a 1949 edition of The Saturday Evening Post magazine takes a look at the man behind those legendary aircraft, and gives a singularly good example of how management of a production facility should not panic and take to "throw it at the wall and see if it sticks" approach...

Mobilgas Socony-Vacuum Aviation Fuel

Mobilgas Socony-Vacuum Aviation Fuel, September 10, 1945 Life - Airplanes and RocketsThroughout World War II, American companies produced lavish, full-color advertisements for magazines to let the public know how the war effort was being aided by their products. Part of the motivation was probably to ease the suffering most people were experiencing through rationing of gasoline, food staples like flour and sugar (and coffee), and the scarcity of new products and replacement parts as priority was given to supplying our military's efforts to beat back and defeat the Communist, Socialist, Nazi regimes across Europe, Africa, and the South Pacific. Mobilgas, Mobileoil, and other such variations on the Mobile name were major players in the energy industry at the time this advertisement appeared in Life magazine. Not knowing what the "Socony-Vacuum" part of the label meant, I did a search and found this on the Exxon website: "The flying red horse was first used by Vacuum Oil in South Africa in 1911. In 1931, when Vacuum merged with Socony, the red Pegasus – a symbol of speed and power – was adopted as its U.S. trademark. In 1968, Mobil adopted new-look Pegasus service stations. The red Pegasus remains among the most recognized corporate symbols in American petroleum history." I wouldn't bet much money on the last statement. My guess is almost nobody under 40 years old could tell you what it is.

Jonah's Plane

Jonah's Plane (November 1938 Boys' Life Article) - Airplanes and RocketsOld seafarers' superstitions wore on long past the days when sailors believed their ship might run over the edge of the Earth. They carried over into maritime services well into the 20th century, and probably to some extent into the 21st century. It was common to blame a long string of bad luck on one poor sap whose appearance on the scene just happened to coincide with the supposed curse. He was called a "Jonah," after the Biblical character whose presence on a fishing boat caused a constant run of bad weather until the crew finally tossed him overboard where the leviathan of the deep swallowed him. In this story from a 1938 edition of Boys' Life magazine, a particular seaplane suffered problem after problem, like water in the gas tank causing dead stick landings on rough seas, so the pilots and mechanics referred to it as "Jonah's plane." As with many stories of the era, this one centers around airplanes and ships...

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The 727 That Vanished

The 727 That Vanished - Airplanes and Rockets"Seven years after her brother disappeared from Quatro de Fevereiro International Airport in Angola, Benita Padilla-Kirkland is trying to persuade the FBI to re-open his case. She believes she has the 'new information' agents told her they require. But she suspects that the agency already has more information than agents will admit to. Kirkland's brother, Ben Charles Padilla, a certified flight engineer, aircraft mechanic, and private pilot, disappeared while working in the Angolan capital, Luanda, for Florida-based Aerospace Sales and Leasing. On May 25, 2003, shortly before sunset, Padilla boarded the company's Boeing 727-223, tail number N844AA. With him was a helper he had recently hired, John Mikel Mutantu, from the Republic of the Congo. The two had been working with Angolan mechanics to return the 727 to flight-ready status so they could reclaim it from a business deal gone bad, but neither could fly it..."

The Moon: We Look Before We Leap

The Moon: We Look Before We Leap - Ranger 6, January 24, 1964 Electronics Magazine - RF CafeCongress was breathing hard down the neck of NASA while Ranger 6 was being prepared for its surveillance mission to the lunar surface. In 1962, Ranger 3, the first to carry a TV camera, went into orbit around the sun after missing the moon. Ranger 4 (dubbed "Brainless I") impacted the moon but did not send back any data. And Ranger 5 lost power after launch and missed the moon by about 450 miles. Time was running out to collect data for use in fulfilling the challenge issues by President John F. Kennedy on May 25, 1961, to "...commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth." That challenge was successfully met by the Apollo 11 mission partially on July 21st, 1969 by landing Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon, and then fully on July 24th when they (Armstrong, Aldrin and Michael Collins) returned safely to Earth. Ranger 6 unfortunately ended in failure on February 2nd, 1964, when its TV camera did not return any images...

Commies in Profile (Russian Air Force)

Commies in Profile (Russian Air Force), October 1950 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsIsn't it interesting how these days you almost never hear Communists referred to as Communists? Up until the last two decades or so, newspapers, magazines, television broadcasts, movies, et al, regularly used the word to describe countries and leaders thereof such as Russia and Soviet Union, China, Cuba, North Korea, and North Vietnam. I don't think it is because we don't want to hurt anyone's feelings; rather, it is because the purveyors of the media are openly simpatico with the precepts, but don't want to bear the stigma of the title. In 1950 when this "Commies in Profile" article appeared in Air Trails magazine, no pretenses were made about who the bad guys were and calling the villain by name was popular. Russia had been our ally in World War II, but only because we had a common enemy - the Axis powers. Anyway, here is a collection of known aircraft in the Russian air force in the time between WWII and Korea. The similarity to many American, British, and German planes is obvious. The most interesting, IMHO, is the MIG Utka (duck) canard design...

Post WWII Airplane Photographs on QSL Cards

Post World War II Airplane Photographs on QSL Cards - Airplanes and RocketsA couple weeks ago I published an article on my RFCafe.com engineering website titled, "Amazing Collection of QSL Cards and Photographs from 1924-1978." If you are an amateur radio operator, you will probably want to take a look at the absolutely huge collection (>5,000) of QSL cards collected over many decades by Mr. Thomas "Tom" Russell Gentry (W5RG). I mention the website here as well because there is an equally amazing collection of post World War I through pre World War II airplane photographs that have most likely never been seen anywhere else. There are hundreds of biplanes and pilots and hangars and engines and officers and aerial reconnaissance views, and a whole lot more. Many show the result of a botched landing or ground loop. There is even a photo of a model biplane sitting in the grass in front of a hangar. To see all the airplane photographs, go to the main website and click on the Army Air Corps link at the top. This could be just what you have been looking for to get authentication photos for your scale model...

Clough's Concluding Comments Concerning 'Copters

Clough's Concluding Comments Concerning 'Copters, November 1953 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsWe modelers really have an easy time of it these days if there is a much stronger desire to fly than to build, or if there is an innate inability to build well. Levels of engineering and prefabrication have reached the point that even with vehicles as complex and inherently unstable as helicopters and multirotor platforms, a model pilot wannabe can purchase just about any flying platform in a ready-to-fly configuration. Not many people back in the era when Roy Clough wrote this article even dreamed that for a couple hundred bucks it would be possible to buy a helicopter that would be able fly in a hands-off manner, but would even have an onboard computer that would bring the craft back to an upright, stable, hovering state simply by pushing a literal panic button on a transmitter. The state of the art in R/C helicopters was presented in this 1953 issue of Air Trails magazine...

How to Make a Ducted Fan Radio Control Flyer

How to Make a Ducted Fan Radio Control Flyer Article & Plans, June 1962 American Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsJust as with model helicopters, there was a time not so very long ago (relative to the age of the Earth, anyway) that if you wanted a ducted fan propulsion unit for your model jet aircraft, you had to design and build it yourself. As usual, the pioneers of the hobby took the figurative arrows for those of us who would follow in their painfully forged path. Renowned British aeromodeler P.E. Norman wrote a series of three articles for American Modeler in 1962 detailing his method of building ducted fan models - including the ducted fan itself. This third and last installment includes plans for a semi-scale Rapier jet fighter. There are few people today who would undertake to build the ducted fan unit from scratch since much more powerful, efficient products are available today, but there are some lessons to be learned by reading the history of ducted fan development...

Craftsman 5½" Bench Vise and 7" Woodworking Vise Restored

Craftsman 5½" Bench Vise and 7" Woodworking Vise Restored - Airplanes and RocketsI have been using a 4½" bench vise for decades, and have always wanted to get a larger one. It was OK for most jobs, but there have been times when I thought for sure I'd break it when hammering or bending metal parts in it. This Craftsman 5½" Bench Vise (Model No. 113.228162) appeared on eBay and looked to be in pretty good condition. I figured a bit of polishing and painting would restore it to nearly good-as-new. The vise was taken completely apart and all the paint was removed using a high speed grinder with an abrasive pad. It left the metal unscathed. Areas that could not be reached with the grinder were wire brushed. Unpainted metal parts were polished with a fine grit pad. A thin coat of RustOleum primer was applied, then three coats of gloss red over that. The vise was set in the sun all day to cure. A thin layer of grease was put on the swivel base mating surfaces, jaw screw, and where the handle meets the vise jaw...

Full-Scale Blended Wing Demonstrator Aircraft

JetZero Full-Scale Blended Wing Body Demonstrator Aircraft - Airplane and Rockets"Initial flight tests of a blended wing body aircraft could take off in 2027 following JetZero's selection by the US Department of the Air Force to build a full-scale demonstrator. With a design that differs from a traditional tube-and-wing aircraft, the blended wing body (BWB) merges the aircraft body into its high-aspect-ratio wing, decreasing aerodynamic drag by at least 30% and providing additional lift. This increased efficiency will enable extended range, more loiter time, and increased payload delivery efficiencies. 'Blended wing body aircraft have the potential to significantly reduce fuel demand and increase global reach,' said secretary of the Air Force, Frank Kendall. 'Moving forces and cargo quickly, efficiently, and over long distance is a critical capability to enable national security strategy..."

Sears Electric Hair Clipper Set

Sears Electric Hair Clipper Set 7934 - Airplanes and RocketsIn my zeal to procure some of the items I remember having or using as a kid in the 1960s and '70s, along with some of the things Melanie and I had when we first got married back in 1983, I ran across this Sears Electric Clipper Set (#7934) on eBay. The seller was only asking about $10 for it, so here it is. As you can see in the photos, it is in mint condition, and even the original box shows only minor wear and tear from sitting in someone's closet for more than half a century. I disassembled the clippers and did a thorough cleaning (not much there) and oiled the moving parts with a bit of 3-in-1. Everything seems to be in great condition. Even the power cord is supple and unscathed. One of the plastic blade attachments was included, although the instruction sheet shows four types. Judging from other similar clippers for sale on eBay, the set only came with one, and the other styles must have been available for purchase separately. If you have any you can bear to part with, please let me know...

Wisecrack-Ups

Wisecrack-Ups, March 1937 Flying Aces - Airplanes and RocketsIt was May 6, 1937, just a couple months after this comic appeared in the March 1937 issue of Flying Aces' "Wisecrack-ups" feature, that the namesake of the alluded-to dirigible would suffer a fiery end to its service in ferrying passengers back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean. Prior to that, big plans were in the works for making fortunes on luxury travel in the relative safety of a large, inherently stable - and presumably safe - mode of transcontinental travel. Even a switch from highly flammable hydrogen to inert helium was not enough to assuage the flying public's concerns. Besides, helium was rather scarce and therefore expensive at the time. The other comic is rather funny, given the fuselages of both the aeroplane its presumptive passengers. Otherwise, a collection of puns, jokes, and humorous conversations are included. Some of the content's impact will be lost on a younger generation not familiar with the situational circumstances of the era. Enjoy!

My Fully Restored Criterion RV−6 Dynascope

Criterion RV-6 Dynascope Telescope Restoration Project - Airplanes and RocketsA few years back, I wrote about the Criterion RV−6 Dynascope, 6" Newtonian telescope I attempted to buy whilst serving in the USAF at Robins AFB, Georgia, in from 1979-82. Now, half a decade later, I finally found one at a reasonable price, where the owner was willing to pack and ship it. He did an excellent job with it, and even used a heavy cardboard SonoTube for protecting the optical tube. After performing a quick mirror alignment and using the original Criterion eyepieces, I looked at the moon and Saturn and was amazed at the quality of the image. A pert−near polar alignment was done and the clock drive was turned on. With Sirius centered in the eyepiece to begin with, it was still well within the field of view 20 minutes later. Since completing the restoration, I did another quickie collimation and took the Criterion RV−6 Dynascope out at night for a test drive. All I have for eyepieces right now are the original 9 mm and 18 mm focal length jobs. Beginning with the 18 mm, I found Jupiter and the four Galilean moons, and Saturn along with Titan. They were in very sharp focus. Changing to the 9 mm yielded amazingly good images - about as good as I remember seeing through my Celestron CPC−800 telescope. I then put the 18 mm in the 2x Barlow lens and found the images..

Vickers-Supermarine Spitfire Mk IIA

Vickers-Supermarine Spitfire Mk IIA Article & Plans, December 1972 American Aircraft Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsWebsite visitor Garry O. wrote to request that I post this article from the December 1972 issue of American Aircraft Modeler magazine featuring the Vickers-Supermarine Spitfire Mk IIA. With its elliptical wing planform and outward-retracting landing gear, is considered one of the most attractive airplanes ever to come out of England. It, along with the North American Mustang, are probably the two most modeled fighters from World War II. This .61-powered control-line model by Malvin Meador won the 1971 Nationals for control-line scale. It has operating retractable gear, flaps, sliding canopy, navigation lights, and drop tanks...

AI Beats Humans at Drone Racing

AI Beats Humans at Drone Racing - Airplanes and Rockets"Drone racing has joined the list of activities where AI beats humans - in multiple races against three world-class humans in this case - following research at the University of Zurich and Intel. 'Physical sports are more challenging for AI because they are less predictable than board or video games,- said Zurich head of robotics and perception Davide Scaramuzza. 'We don't have a perfect knowledge of the drone and environment models, so the AI needs to learn them by interacting with the physical world.' The sport is FPV (first person view) racing, where humans wearing VR headsets control their drones using images from on-board cameras..."

Warren Kurth's "049" Speed: Peanut Mk.2

Warren Kurth's "049" Speed Entry: Peanut Mk.2, October 1961 American Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsThis plan sheet for Warren Kurth's "049" Speed Entry, Peanut Mk.2, was printed in the October 1961 issue of American Modeler magazine. It won the ½A control line speed event with an official speed of 102.46 mph. As was common in the day, a bottom fuselage "pan" made of cast magnesium was used. Speed models had no landing gear and took off from a drop-away wheeled cradle (I have seen a rear bird or two with a single embedded wheel). They usually flew from paved or concrete runways (flying circles), so a metal fuselage made for a durable shell. It also made for a very rigid wing and tail mount. Metal working skill was/is needed for speed models for modifying the metal pans to accept the engine, fuel tank, control system, and other construction components...

Vintage Jetex-Powered Comet Lockheed F−94C Starfire Kit

Comet Jetex-Powered F-94C Starfire Kit - Airplanes and RocketsThis vintage Jetex-Powered Comet Lockheed F−94C Starfire kit (Kit No. SP−1) has been started by the previous owner. It was designed and drawn by Gerald Blumenthal. The copyright date printed on the plans is 1953. Many of the parts had been cut out of the printwood balsa sheets, but none of the airframe has been assembled. I have not done a full inventory of the kit, but it appears most, if not all, parts are present. The vacuum-formed plastic components are a bit deformed and discolored from sitting in the box for many decades, but are useable. A unique feature is the way the landing gear legs are assembled out of a hardwood dowel for the main strut with music wire protruding from the bottom for attaching the wooden wheel. One of the gears is already built. Details are provided for the installation of a Jetex 150 engine with the augmenter tube. This is a very rare kit...

Alpha II Rocket Built by Chris H. & Son

Alpha II rocket built by Christian H. & son - Airplanes and Rockets

Estes Alpha rocket kit for sale - Airplanes and Rockets

Website visitor Christian H. for buying my Estes Alpha II rocket kit. He and his son built it and sent this photo - nice job! The original Astron (Estes) Alpha kit, as can be seen in the photos, had balsa fins and nose cone. The fins were cut from sheet balsa and needed to be glued individually to the body tube. Then, both the nose cone and fins needed to be coated with filler and sanded before painting. I wonder whether the new model, which uses lightweight plastic and does not require painting, is lighter than the original?

Glight! (Glider Flight)

Glight! (Glider Flight), December 1945 Flying Age Including Flying Aces - Airplanes and RocketsGliders (aka sailplanes) have always attracted me because of their sleek lines and graceful, silent flight. As a sailboat requires its pilot to possess a knowledge of how to exploit properties of air currents to propel his water craft, so, too, must a glider pilot know how to interpret and predict air currents to enable long flights of his aircraft. As an enthusiast and practitioner of both model and full-size boats and airplanes (many moons ago), I have great appreciation for both motor-powered and nature-powered versions, but given a choice between the two, I'll take the sailplane and the sailboat most of the time. It was not until materials science was able to produce spars and skins strong and light enough for enabling high aspect ratio wings that glider transformed from pudgy and boxy to lean and highly aerodynamic. High performance sailplanes can achieve greater than 40:1 glide ratios, meaning 40,000 feet (7½ miles) horizontally for every 1,000 feet of altitude lost (in neutral air). In 1945 when this "Glight!" article appeared in Flying Age magazine, the aforementioned materials discoveries had either not yet been made or not yet applied to glider airframes, as can be seen in these photos...

Saturday Evening Post Comics by Charles Schulz

Saturday Evening Post Comics by Charles Schulz - Airplanes and RocketsThe Peanuts© comic strip, drawn by Charles Schulz, has been my lifetime favorite. That it is also the world's favorite strip is no wonder. Now that I have crossed the half-century threshold, I tend to look back at the innocence and complexity of the themes with a perspective other than simply entertainment - although I still thoroughly enjoy reading them just to get a few good laughs. Since Charles Schulz's death in 2000, books have been published documenting his life and how his experiences influenced Peanuts characters' appearances and behaviors. It is apparent from the content that Mr. Schulz hearkened from an era much different from today. It is hard to imagine a start-up comic akin to Peanuts being accepted in the much cruder, meaner, and less polite world of 2009. One interesting tidbit that I found in Peanuts: The Art of Charles M. Schulz, is a list of the edition of The Saturday Evening Post where Schulz's first for-pay comics appeared...

They Had What It Takes: Wiley Post

They Had What It Takes: II - Wiley Post - Ace of World Girdlers, March 1937 Flying Aces - Airplanes and RocketsIn the 1930s, Flying Aces magazine ran a series highlighting aviation pioneers and heros called "They Had What It Takes." The March 1937 issue featured Wiley Post. He was famous for being the first man to circumnavigate the globe alone, but what really set him apart from other trail blazers was his having only one good eye. Mr. Post lost use of his left eye due to a metal shaving being thrown into it during a drilling procedure. He used the workman's compensation award to buy a Curtiss Jenney biplane, thus beginning his flying career. The FAA will issue special waivers for what is termed "monocular vision," when the corrected visual acuity in the worst eye is less than 20/200. Stereo vision (stereopsis) is considered lost at that point, but stereo vision is only effective a distances up to about 100 feet, so long distance depth perception is a matter of familiarity with how objects of known size would appear at various distances...

What Next? - Modelin' Folk Singers

What Next? - Modelin' Folk Singers (July/August 1963 American Modeler) - Airplanes and RocketsFinding poetry, short stories, and even songs in magazines was common up until sometime in the 1970s. I'm not sure why it stopped (or nearly so), but as a reader of many vintage magazine types - airplanes, woodworking, mechanics, electronics, and others - I can attest to it. Both here on Airplanes and Rockets and on my RF Cafe engineering website, I have posted quite a few examples. Here is yet another from the July/August 1963 edition of American Modeler magazine. As time goes by, I wonder how many of today's readers are even familiar with some of the tunes the songs are meant to follow...

No Strings Attached

No Strings Attached (May/June 1963 American Modeler Magazine) - Airplanes and RocketsBeing risk averse by nature, I have always shied away from "serious" free flight for fear of losing a model to a passing thermal or an unobserved wind carrying a model into the hinterlands or into the tops of trees. Having at least control of the rudder to make the ship turn around as necessary always seems the prudent approach. Still, there are thousands of daredevils who willingly risk all for the chance to set a new personal record and/or practice for a competition, relying on a dethermalizer and a lot of skill to stave off disaster. They surely are a hardy bunch. This "No Strings Attached" column from the May/June 1963 edition of American Modeler magazine reports on "Lucky" Bill Hartill, whose FF ship was whisked away by one of those aforementioned thermals, deemed lost forever, and then a few hours later found and returned by a farmer who saw it landing in his field 8 miles away. That's just one of many instances, evidently, where "Lucky" earned his nickname...

Citizen-Ship LT-3 Relayless Receiver

Citizen-Ship LT-3 Relayless Receiver, March 1961 American Modeler Magazine - Airplanes and RocketsIn 1961 when this Citizen−Ship LT−3 Relayless Receiver promotion appeared in American Modeler magazine, transistorized circuits were a relatively new thing. Many people were dubious of the newfangled technology and were leery of the dependability of them. It didn't take long for the convenience of low weight, small size, higher functionality, and no need for bulky and heavy high voltage batteries to sway even the most hard cord tubeist (a word I just made up) toward adopting the format. Even so, the state of the art had a long way to go to get anywhere close to today's micro- and nano-sized receivers and servos, with capabilities and reliability levels only dreamed of in 1961. The escapement mechanism featured was powered by a twisted rubber band. A pulse of current from the receiver caused the control arms to rotate a quarter turn when a small solenoid released the escapement tab. So, although the receiver itself was "relayless," the escapement still had one (a relay is a solenoid with make/break electrical contacts)...

British Drone Flies for Months

British Drone Flies for Months - Airplanes and Rockets"A solar-powered drone built by BAE Warton, described as a High Altitude Pseudo Satellite (HAPS) Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) has reached 66,000 feet on its 24 hour maiden flight in New Mexico. The drone, called PHASA-35, has a 115 foot wingspan, weighs 150 kg and is powered by batteries at night allowing it to be airborne for several months. It can carry a load of 15 kg (33 lbs.) and applications are seen as environmental surveillance, disaster relief, border protection, maritime and military surveillance, and mobile Internet communications. 'It is the first in a series of trials planned to confirm system performance, support development activities and validate test points to enable PHASA-35 to be made available in defence and commercial markets internationally..."

B−17 Flying Fortress (Memphis Belle) at Erie Airport

B-17 Flying Fortress (Memphis Belle) at Erie Airport - Airplanes and RocketsOn July 21, 2013, Melanie and I toured the inside of the "Memphis Belle" that was used in filming the movie of the same name. North Coast Air, based at Erie International Airport, hosted the event. This particular B−17 Flying Fortress is not the original Memphis Belle, but is a version that was produced in 1945, near the end of World War II. It is being leased by the Liberty Foundation for country-wide public tours while the ill-fated Liberty Belle is being restored. Rides were being offered for around $500 per seat, so we had to pass on that. I'd gladly pay the price if we could afford it, because the costs of operating such an aircraft is enormous. Fortunately, wealthy sponsors pay for the majority of the expenses. The Smithsonian of course has a fully restored B−17, but it sits in a museum and never takes to the air. The B−17's four Pratt & Whitney R-1690 Hornet radial engines make an unmistakable sound in the air, as do other multi-engine World War II era planes. I still run outside the house an search the skies when I hear such a sweet noise..

Death Flies the Equator

Death Flies the Equator, March 1937 Flying Aces - Airplanes and RocketsSome of the adventure stories in Flying Aces magazine were practically full-length novels. The May 1934 issue included one of Donald Keyhoe's pieces entitled, "Death Flies the Equator," featuring intrepid G−2 agent, Dick Knight, and his sidekick, Lothario Doyle, who team up to pit good against evil across the globe. The notorious "Four Faces" cabal fixed on achieving world domination are a constant challenge for the wits and wile of our heroic pair. Dick Knight supplies the brunt of required brainwork while ex-Marine Doyle breaks bones and faces when needed. Both are accomplished airborne dogfighters, avigators (archaic term for aviator / navigator), and mechanics. Many of these stories involve fantastic weapons and deception devices, sabotage, moles, traitors, and incredible feats of flying. They really are "page-turners," and the only things that keeps me from reading straight through is wanting to be able to spread the entertainment across the span of several night's reading in bed. Unlike most magazines of yesterday and today, Flying Aces usually...

NASA TechRise Student Challenge

NASA TechRise Student Challenge - Airplanes and Rockets"Are you ready for this year's NASA TechRise Student Challenge? From researching Earth's environment to designing experiments for lunar and planetary exploration, schools are invited to join NASA in its mission to inspire the world through discovery. If you are in sixth to 12th grade at a U.S. public, private, or charter school - including those in U.S. territories - your challenge is to team up with your schoolmates and develop a science or technology experiment idea for one of the following NASA TechRise flight vehicles: High-Altitude Balloon with approximately four hours of flight time at 70,000 feet and exposure to Earth's atmosphere, high-altitude radiation, and perspective views of our planet Rocket-Powered Lander that will fly for approximately two minutes at an altitude of 80 ft (~25 m) over a test field designed to look like the Moon's surface..."

Southwest Champion's Winning Towliner "Honker"

Southwest Champion's Winning Towliner "Honker", September/October 1963 American Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsAs open space becomes more and more scare in populated areas all up and down the East Coast, the Great Lakes region, and similar sections of the country, free flight activities are increasingly difficult to contemplate. The same goes for model rocketry. All of the fields I used to fly from in the Mayo (Annapolis), Maryland, area when in my teens back in the early to mid 1970s were long ago turned into housing developments, commercial office or retail outlet stores. It used to be a simple matter of loading an airplane or rocket into my 1969 Camaro and driving a few miles to a school yard or an empty lot behind a strip mall, but not so much anymore. Even if you do manage to locate a suitable flying area, there are usually signs posted warning of prosecution for trespassing (often made necessary due to our overly litigious society). School athletic fields are typically cluttered with soccer nets and other permanent structures. Whenever I see photos in articles like this one for a free flight towed glider model, I am struck by the starkness of the landscape in the background. It seems today you need to me in a Midwest farm field, in the High Plains, or Southwest deserts to find ample open areas...

All-Balsa Plane Model - The Minute Man

All-Balsa Plane Model ... The Minute Man - Airplanes and RocketsAs with most of the handyman's type of magazine of the era, Popular Science features a very broad array of topics, including full size and model aeroplanes. The May 1968 issue of Popular Mechanics had plans for a full-size homebuilt airplane made of spruce and plywood, using a modified Volkswagen engine. This June 1941 issue had plans for building a rubber powered free flight model dubbed the "Minute Man." It is a simple stick and tissue job that can be built for a few pennies worth (at the time) of balsa, glue, Jap tissue, and rubber (of course in today's hyperinflated Bidenomics world the price is measured in dollars). Old timers like myself are familiar with the designer, Frank Zaic. He was the founder of the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) in 1936, an organization which still thrives today. He was also co-founder of Model Aviation magazine, which has undergone a myriad of name changes over the years, and is now back to it's original name. Frank's experience as a draftsman for the U.S. Patent Office is apparent in the quality of his plans...

Avery Label Printwood Plan Templates

Using Avery Labels for Transferring Plan Parts - Airplanes and RocketsI have received many requests for the scanned plans file for the Comet Sparky free flight model. Along with the plans, I provide three files that contain the printwood patterns. Printwood patterns, for those of you unfamiliar with the term, are the ink pattern that were printed directly onto the balsa so that the model builder could cut the pieces out. This was the el cheapo way of producing a kit where the expense of die cutting was not incurred by the manufacturer. Truth be told, the die cutting was usually so lousy that you were better off cutting the parts yourself. Well, it would be if companies like Comet didn't make a habit of using balsa with about the same density and hardness as oak. Cutting 1/16" square longerons in fuselage bulkheads or wing spar notches in wing ribs was a real challenge - especially if you were a kid whose only form of razor sharp tool was a used blade from your father's razor. By the way, the printwood patterns are necessary because most plans from kits do not include templates for all of the sheet balsa parts. That is as true today as it was 50 years ago...

Dog Fighting - Is a Pursuit Pilot's Business

Dog Fighting - Is a Pursuit Pilot's Business, June 1941 Popular Science - Airplanes and RocketsIf you think you can imagine, without having ever done so, what it would be like to be in the cockpit of a fighter plane battling with an adversary for dear life, you are fooling yourself. The same goes for going tanque to tanque or mano a mano on the battlefield with opposing forces. The complex, synergistic combination of fear, adrenalin, honor, patriotism, self-preservation, revenge, egotism, hatred, rage, camaraderie, esprit de corps, and other emotions can only be experienced in−person, and nobody knows for certain how he will react to the circumstance - especially for the first time. Intense training can help prepare you, but you just don't know until you're there. Although nowhere as consequential, look at how people freeze with stage fright when facing a large audience in a big venue for the first time. Aerial combat fighters, aka dog fighters or pursuit fighters (which is where the "P" comes from in P-51, P-40, etc.), are the cream of the crop of airmen, going back to the first air-to-air conflicts of World War I. Yes, ground fighting requires courage and wit, but adding that third dimension to the equation does not add merely another 50% to the mix; it multiplies that difficulty by a much larger factor...

Pfalz D.III 3-View & Article

Pfalz D.III 3-view & Article, July 1973 American Aircraft Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsAirplanes and Rockets website visitor Peter C., of the UK, contacted me about scanning information from a vintage copy of American Aircraft Modeler magazine. Peter requested the 3-view drawing of the Pfalz D.III biplane (by Mr. Björn Karlström) that appeared in the July 1973 edition. I did him one better by also scanning and OCRing the text of the accompanying article as well. Author Patricia Groves did a very thorough job of researching the history of the Pfalz D.III biplane, and included some rarely seen photos of the various versions. Enjoy...

Biceps Article & Plans

Biceps Article & Plans - April 1969 American Aircraft Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsAirplanes and Rockets website visitor Ray L. wrote to say he has a Biceps control line model that appeared in the April 1969 edition of American Aircraft Modeler magazine, and that he would like to have the article posted. Per Roy, "I bought this model from one of our club members who is a team race flier and built it on a whim, he fitted it with electric and had it test flown by one of our aerobatic pilots and after that he lost interest it and I was happy to give it a good home, the quality of build and finish is to pro standards." Power in the original was a Fox .59, wingspan is 48". AMA Plans Service still prints the Biceps plans.

USAF Seeks Help From Public in Finding Missing F-35

USAF Seeks Help From Public in Finding Missing F-35We have truly fallen as a great country. This weekend, a U.S. Air Force F-35 stealth jet went missing in South Carolina after its pilot ejected. Officials claim it just disappeared. A call went out to the public for assistance in finding it. Yes, you read that right. As with many stories like this on, the reader comments are the best part. Examples include "It's stealth so you'll never find it," Look for it in Iran parked next to the supersecret drone we let them commandeer in 2011," "It's now flying over Ukraine," "Parked in Joe's garage next to his 1967 Corvette," "The Mexican aliens snatched it," "It now identifies as a bird and just flew away," "The official list of Jeffery Epstein Pedo Island clients was aboard - you'll never find it." Fortunately, the pilot got out safely, but bailing and saving your own hide out while your aircraft is left to go its own way and potentially wreak massive damage and death to unwitting targets on the ground seems undistingushed.

After the Long Voyage Home

After the Long Voyage Home, May 1968 Popular Mechanics - Airplanes and Rockets"The Andromeda Strain" movie came out in 1971, just two years after Michael Crichton's book of the same name was published. The plot centered around a military satellite which had returned to earth harboring a deadly microorganism that killed the entire town of people where it landed. 1969, the year of the book, coincided with when the first humans, via Apollo 11, were exposed to the environment of another heavenly body - the moon. "The Andromeda Strain" owed its public intrigue to decades of stories telling of and wondering about what kinds of deadly living and nonliving entities might permeate outer space and potentially cause a plague which might end life on Earth. Although NASA had, by July of 1969, a lot of experience with vehicles and humans going into space and returning with detectable traces of harmful organisms or chemicals, it had never dealt with anything that had been exposed to the surface of another solid body (the moon). Any type of biomass that might have accompanied a meteorite would have been rendered lifeless as its host projectile burned during passage through Earth's atmosphere. Apollo 11 astronauts might bring with them entities protected by the same life-preserving capsule that would keep them alive during their trip home...

Clodhopper Article & Plans

For the Tenderfoot: Clodhopper Article & Plans, Feb 1973 American Aircraft Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsWebsite visitor Kenneth E. wrote to say that he is working to build a complete collection of the "For the Tenderfoot" models that were published in American Aircraft Modeler magazine. The "For the Tenderfoot" series was an attempt to provide motivation to young newcomers to the hobby. They were a mix of free flight rubber, gliders, and 1/4A & 1/2A control line designs that built simply and cheaply. Kenneth requested reprints of the following three models: Saucerer, Ray Malmström: C/L 1/2A, January 1970 Bonanza and Mustang, David Thornburg: FF HLG, January 1971 Clodhopper, Paul Denson: FF Rubber February 1973...

Silkspan & Dope Covering Tutorial Videos

Silkspan & Dope Covering Tutorial Video - Airplanes and RocketsIf you do a Google search on Silkspan and dope covering methods, a lot of good written instructions can be found. In fact, I suggest you read one or two of them if you have never done a Silkspan and dope covering job before, or if it has been a while and you want a refresher course, or if you have tried and never been able to get an acceptable result. There is no special skill required to obtain a really nice looking Silkspan and dope finish, there are a couple "gotcha" scenarios that can ruin an otherwise simple process. I believe the two worst mistakes you can make are painting dope in air that is too humid, and using a thinner that is not entirely compatible with the dope (nitrate or butyrate). I decided it might be a good idea to make a video of how I have been successfully achieving decent Silkspan and dope finishes for lo these 40 or more years. My finishes have never won any prizes, but the tissue (Silkspan) has always been nice and taught and the brushed dope has gone on evenly, with nice, sharp trim lines. The subject of this tutorial / demonstration is a Sopwith Camel biplane from a Manzano Laser Works kit. My Camel first flew as a 3-channel radio controlled model, and was covered with Monokote. It experienced an unplanned encounter with terra firma and broke off half of the top left wing. Since I had originally planned to build it for control line...

New Extension Shaft Reduces Engine Repairs

New Extension Shaft Reduces Engine Repairs, October 1941 Flying Aces - Airplanes and RocketsThis propeller extension shaft featured in a 1941 issue of Flying Aces magazine is an example of a concept that seemed like a good idea on paper, but probably proved to be a disaster in practice. If you have ever had an R/C helicopter with an even slightly bent main rotor shaft, then you know how the situation causes vibrations whose severity varies with the amount of bending and the rotation rate of the shaft. Helicopter main rotors turn at a fairly low rate compared to an aircraft propeller, although the mass and diameter of the propeller is much less than a rotor. Even so, I imagine the vibration caused by even a slightly bent propeller shaft extension when the engine is running at peak RPM is very high - enough to cause the situation to quickly get worse. It is a runaway situation where the bend increases, causing worse vibration, which causes more bending, causing greater vibration, etc., etc., etc. An additional problem would be caused by the longer moment arm causing additional wear on the crankshaft bearings and/or bushings, particularly during abrupt change in the airplane's pitch angle. The proof that propeller extension shafts were not...

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