Aviation History

Launch preparations for the Wright Flyer

Launch preparations for the Wright Flyer

In a happy coincidence of history and technology converging at the right time and place, photographers have been present to document the progress of aviation in both film and still images since the dawn of manned flight.

Many of these pictures and motion films are lost to today’s modeling audience. However, increasing collections of these remarkable images are now being archived in various internet forums.  In this section, I’ll share some of the more unique films and photos that I have come across relating to the history of aviation.

Early version of the Wright brothers glider in flight

Early version of the Wright brothers glider in flight

These views of an aviation era long past are valuable for radio control modelers. You can see and understand details of the full scale aircraft you intend to recreate that makes the model design journey all that more interesting.

For example, in the film on Manfred von Richthofen there is an interesting segment showing the ground crew priming the cylinders of the rotary engine prior to start. You can clearly see the cylinders rotating around the fixed crankshaft and grasp the difference between the rotary engine, used until 1918 or so, and the later more powerful radial engines developed in the 1920s and used in current day personal aircraft.

Pictures of the Fokker Spin were instrumental in my original design of this historic aircraft. In these early days of aircraft design Anthony Fokker made continual changes as he refined this early trainer.  The detailed photographs were an easy way to track these modifications and incorporate them into the final plan.  Video can in to play as well in this process with a nice YouTube recap of a modern day reproduction of this one of a kind aircraft.

Until the recent past if someone wanted to make an aviation training film they had to make a movie. Anyone who wanted to view it was required to use a projector and screen.  Video tape slowly took over the realm of projected films and digital recording is of course now in universal use.

Advanced version of the Wright brothers glider show pilot in a sitting position

Advanced version of the Wright brothers glider show pilot in a sitting position

Luckily, many of the older aviation films have been transferred to a digital format. There are some very well done training movies prepared for World War II pilots that give wonderful insight regarding the layout and complexity of advanced piston powered aircraft prior to the age of jet turbine flight and computerized cockpits.  The same applies to early jet flight.  These films provide a useful background and context for radio control modeling with detailed views and explanations of these historical aircraft.

The easiest way to see a wide range of pictures of any radio control modeling subject is to simply enter the aircraft name into Google search and click on “Images.” Everything from scaling details to unique paint schemes will be at your fingertips.  YouTube is the place to go to view a large collection of aviation videos.