LET'S GET TECHNICAL, TECHNICAL, I want to get technical...

...let's get into technical. Suddenly from having the theme to Star Trek going through my brain after looking at this postcard I suddenly veered off into the dreadful "Let's Get Physical" of the 80s. So I need to divest myself of all information I've found about this little spaceship so I can go back to humming "Don't Fence Me In," my standby whenever a song starts looping in my head.

The Ryan Firebee Jet Drone, according to Wikipedia:
was a series of target drones or unmanned aerial vehicles developed by the Ryan Aeronautical Company beginning in 1951. It was one of the first jet-propelled drones, and one of the most widely-used target drones ever built.
I'm not sure which model this little drone is, but to read more about it at Wikipedia click here. There is also technical information available here and here. It is interesting to read:
The Peoples Republic of China is known to have recovered US AQM-34N Firebee units during the Vietnam War era, and reverse engineered it. The Chinese copy is known as Wu Zhen 5 (WZ-5), or Chang Hong 1 export name. The WZ-5 entered service in 1981 and is expected to be replaced by newer UAVs in the near future.
So I guess this means if you find an old one at a flea market you can tell if it's original or not by turning it upside down and checking for "Made in China" on the bottom.

Ryan Firebee Jet Drone_postcard front_tatteredandlost
Ryan Firebee Jet Drone_postcard back_tatteredandlost
Click on either image to see them larger.

By far the most interesting information I came across today was a piece of ephemera at the archives of Michigan State University. A newsletter called "Spartan Engineer" published in March 1958 makes mention of the Firebee, but the best thing about the newsletter are all the ads geared towards engineering students placed by large corporations hoping to entice them with future employment...or use of their products: 
Dow Chemical, General Motors, US Steel, Sylvania, Convair, Westinghouse, Standard Oil, Dupont, IBM, Douglas, Pratt & Whitney, Raytheon, Western Electric, Northrup, Sirkorsky, Allied Chemical, General Electric, and strangely enough Kodak and A.W. Faber-Castell and Eagle Pencil for drafting tools.
Now I always thought the card looked like something out at Area 51. I never actually paid attention to anything it said on the back. It looked like the 1950s and a spaceship. For that reason I liked it. It made me think of all the wonderfully silly spaceship scifi movies in the 50s and the "V" shaped spacesuits every astronaut seemed to wear. Okay, apparently even the astronauts from other planets used the same tailor as you'll see in these clips from "Teenagers from Outer Space," one of the all time great bad movies.

As with so many of my cards this was given to me by my best friend. I know she's out there right now saying "Yes, yes...I gave that to you!" And she's one of the only people on planet Earth that understands how my mind works.

Okay, I've droned on enough about this, never really saying anything of consequence, so to get all of it out of my head, and yours, I'll leave you with Roy singing "Don't Fence Me In". Take it Roy...

All information provided for entertainment purposes only. No animals were harmed during the writing of this blather.


  1. Anonymous7/07/2009

    You were right. As soon as I saw the card..
    "Oh, I sent her that one." But I am wondering where I came across it. That one is a real prize.

    and every sci-fi musning should end with a tribult to Roy. He keeps us grounded.

  2. I knew this would all make sense to you and only you!