Archives for December 2013

Check Out the Yard Ace!


The Yard Ace is an easy to build three channel sport RC model aircraft.  The Yard Ace goes together quickly using balsa and plywood parts.  There are no tricks or unusual procedures to the construction methods employed.

CAD plans are available here.  The plans come on two sheets in a PDF format.  These PDF sheets will need to be enlarged at a local copy

Yard Ace electric powered RC model airplane on a fly by

Yard Ace electric powered RC model airplane on a fly by

center.  Full size plans are also included in a TurboCAD file, although you will need some sort of CAD program to access this attachment.

The Yard Ace uses the popular Clark Y airfoil.  This section, with its flat bottom, makes wing assembly easy and provides predictable flight characteristics.  The fuselage uses an innovative 1/16 inch plywood box to securely mount the motor and landing gear in one compact unit.

Side view of the Yard Ace RC model plane

Side view of the Yard Ace RC model plane

The Yard Ace is an ideal initial project for someone wanting to make a model from plans and have something different on the flight line from the normal array of ready to fly foam aircraft.

This gallery has some detailed photos of several Yard Aces under construction as well as in flight.  As you will see, the construction is straightforward with no surprises.

Order a set of plans and make a Yard Ace for yourself.  You will be rewarded with an attractive and pleasant flying radio control model airplane.

X-Plane Simulator for iPad

The X-Plane flight simulator is a very useful addition to your collection of RC flying aids.  X-Plane is an adaptive program that can be run on a range of computers, from multi-screen desktops to iPads and even smartphones.

X-Plane is one of the few consumer flight simulators to use blade element theory to replicate flight performance.  Blade element theory bypasses the need for lookup table to fly the aircraft in the simulator.

Lookup tables are acceptable for an existing aircraft layout.  But for design work or experimenting with changing moments and airfoils, X-Plane is the way to go.  The program is capable enough to even demonstrate the impact of aircraft quirks and design flaws.

I downloaded the app for my iPad.  The cost was incredible for under $10.  You “fly” the aircraft by tilting the iPad.  This results in a surprisingly realistic flight experience.

See a more detailed discussion of the X-Plane flight simulator here. This remarkable program is a fun, affordable and useful addition for your RC modeling experience.

X-Plane flight simulator cockpit view showing realistic scenery

X-Plane flight simulator cockpit view showing realistic scenery

E-Fest Dates for 2014

The next E-Fest (electric festival) will be held at the University of Illinois indoor track and field house on February 15 and 16, 2014.  E-Fest is held every year at this location in late January/early February.  E-Fest is, in my opinion, the premier indoor electric model airplane show in the country.  E-Fest is well organized with a large number of interesting attendees.  You really need to keep this show on your list of modeling events.


Inside the E-Fest Armory Field House at the University of Illinois Champaign

Inside the E-Fest Armory Field House at the University of Illinois Champaign

There are a wide range of indoor electric RC models at E-Fest.  Scale, ready to fly, acrobatic and special interest (such as a flying aircraft carrier) can be seen.  Numerous major vendors set up booths.  There are also a variety of smaller companies and individuals offering model airplane kits, plans, motors and other accessories.

The University of Illinois Armory and field house is an ideal venue for RC flying.  There is a huge, sunlit open space with easily a dozen or more models flying at any one time.  With the advent of 2.4 GHz radio technology there are no delays with obtaining a frequency pin, let along the worry of getting accidentally downed by someone else using your radio channel as in the old days.


Attendees at E-Fest indoor RC model airplane show

Attendees at E-Fest indoor RC model airplane show

The part I really enjoy with attending an E-Fest is a chance to view the incredible selection of models and have a chance to chat with the pilots and designers.  Many of the major mail order companies, such as Horizon Hobby and Tower Hobbies have their plant locations just a few miles from the E-Fest site.  Their presence and informed staff members add a lot to the event.

Electric RC opens the door to a range of aircraft subjects that could not reasonably be attempted with gas engines.  As you know from this website, I enjoy the aircraft designed and flown during the first decade of flight.  E-Fest has all sorts of examples of Wright Flyers, Antoinettes and Bleriots to list a few.  These aircraft have the lightweight, open frame structures that lend themselves so well to vibration-free electric power.


Superb engine detail on Antoinette radio control model plane

Superb engine detail on Antoinette radio control model plane

As I wander around the flying areas, I learn a lot regarding construction techniques, scale detailing and tricks of the trade that assist with my model design and building efforts. 

For example, one modeler used foam to replace normal balsa parts for a smaller biplane, which he named the Ghost.  I had not thought of this approach, making ribs and formers from foam, while maintaining balsa for a few key structural components such as the main wing spar. 

If nothing else, E-Fest is a great source of inspiration for future projects.  It’s amazing the new design approaches you can devise as you review the photos taken at the event.

One area of electric indoor flight that I need to further develop remains my foam building skills.  There are numerous examples of foam model aircraft, from ducted fan F-117s to four rotor tilt-wing hovercraft.  Foam is a quick and easy way to build and fly a prototype of a new design.  This is a smart way to sort out wing incidence, center of gravity and motor mount settings before going to a final version.  At the 2013 E-Fest, there was a great example of a 1909 Antoinette made completely from foam.


Vickers Vimy World War I twin engine bomber

Vickers Vimy World War I twin engine bomber

E-Fest also has a remarkable collection of one of a kind flying models.  The 2012 show had a flying radio controlled aircraft carrier.  This unique aircraft had a set of four vertically mounted electric motors in a quad-copter arrangement put around a hull of a carrier.  The model took off, hovered and allowed smaller micro-models to take off from the air. 

Other originals include a Spiderman superhero with moveable feet and hands for control surfaces, and a motor and prop cleverly installed in the head region.  Plus, Spiderman looked great looping around in the air.

E-Fest is fun for the entire family.  Kids get to build and fly hand launched models.  And there is always something going on in the air to entertain the younger crowd.  Getting new blood into the RC modeling scene remains a top priority for all of us, and we should embrace events such as this to help meet this goal.

Champaign, Illinois is easy to get to if you are in the Chicago area, just about a two hour drive south from Chicago.  As I mentioned earlier, E-Fest is well worth a trip from wherever your location might be.  Don’t miss it!

Author:  Gordon McKay

Back in the Saddle

Hello everyone.  I have been away from the website for a month, but I am happy to now be back.  The November 9th wedding of our son, Michael to his new bride Katie could not have gone any better.  We are so happy for the new couple.  Right after the wedding I had a few business trips.  But I am home for a while and can catch up with modeling and website issues.


View of pilot and dummy engine in Werner's enlarged Fokker Spin RC model

View of pilot and dummy engine in Werner’s enlarged Fokker Spin RC model

The first item of good news is that my design of the 1911 Fokker Spin will be included in the January 2014 issue of Quiet and Electric Flight International magazine.  Tony Van Geffen, the editor of Q&EFI and I have been in contact through the magic of e-mail. Tony’s United Kingdom based group has the CAD plans, a construction article and a set of pictures.  I am looking forward to seeing how this comes out.  The Fokker Spin will be my 6th published radio control model airplane plan.

Speaking of the Fokker Spin, Werner has created a one of a kind variant of this model.  Werner lives in Germany and has a stable of early aviator radio control model aircraft that he has constructed.  Werner is a world-class builder, and this is evident in all of his modeling projects.


Werner's 225% enlargement of the Fokker Spin showing structure details

Werner’s 225% enlargement of the Fokker Spin showing structure details

What is interesting with Werner’s approach is that he will take an existing design and enlarges it to meet his requirements.  Werner took my design of the 1912 Blackburn Monoplane and enlarged it to 125% of the original size.  Per his YouTube video, the model flies exceptionally well.

Werner then took my 28 inch wingspan plan for the Fokker Spin and enlarged it 225%.  The pictures speak for themselves.  The pictures also provide a learning experience in the design work that must be done to adapt the structure to the higher flight loads with these heavier models.

The final result produces a Spin with a 1.6 meter wingspan and a weight of 610 grams.  This larger size allows the addition of much more scale details, to include the distinctive side radiators, a very attractive dummy engine and a full figure pilot. 

Werner’s Spin has not yet flown.  I am certainly looking forward to hearing about the first flight, and will let you know the moment I learn about it.  Hopefully, Werner will include another video!

A final news item that everyone needs to be aware of is the date for E-Fest!  The next E-Fest will be in Champaign, IL on February 15 and 16, 2014. 

E-Fest is probably the world’s best indoor electric radio control model event.  I have been to three previous E-Fest shows.  Well organized, tons of flying (especially with today’s 2.4 GHz radios), lots of static displays and numerous vendors.  Champaign is just a two hour drive south from Chicago, not hard to get to if you are in the area.  Please don’t miss it!

Detailed underside view of Werner's 225% enlarged Fokker Spin

Detailed underside view of Werner’s 225% enlarged Fokker Spin