Model Rocket historian, Terry Dean, uncovered this interesting article from 1931. Not only is the term “model rocket” used but it also describes rockets with both glide and autogyro recovery.
” Herr Tiling shot both “passenger”‘ and “mail” model rockets to 6,000 ft. The passenger type descended on wings which unfolded as soon as the craft headed downward, as in last week’s test. Supposition: A pilot would maneuver it like any glider, to considerable distance if he chose. The mail type descended vertically, supported by three revolving winglets like the vanes of an Autogyro.”
Read the entire article circa 1931 here.