Archives for November 2016

Vintage Model Aircraft

Bleriot during a fly-by

Bleriot during a fly-by

I enjoy designing and building RC models based on aircraft from the first decade of flight. Sig offers a superb kit of the Demoiselle and I offer original designs of the 1909 Blackburn Monoplane and the Fokker Spin.

Many of these early flyers share flight characteristics that are not common with today’s more advanced aircraft. Issues such as adverse yaw and high-drag characteristics are a common theme.
Aerodynamic knowledge has advanced considerably since those pioneering days of flight a century ago. Engineers and pilots simply know a lot more about aviation and aircraft design.  This is reflected in today’s aircraft that fly in a predictable and safe manner.

Nose detail of the Blackburn RC model plane

Nose detail of the Blackburn RC model plane

When designing and flying model airplanes based on these early layouts, oftentimes the inherent adverse flight characteristics of the full scale variant can creep into the model’s flight behavior. RC pilots need to have an understanding of these issues in order to successfully fly model aircraft from this era.

I added a page discussing the issues of flying and designing vintage aircraft. This is based on my experiences with the Sig Demoiselle kit, as well as my designs of the Blackburn Monoplane and Fokker Spin.

In short, there are numerous ways to make a successful model of these aircraft that fly in a safe and predictable manner. Best of luck with your efforts regarding these true Pioneers of Flight.

Brian’s Chickadee

I always enjoy hearing back from modelers who have built planes from plans offered on this website, and better yet from those who have experimented and made improvements.

Top view of Brian's Blackburn showing rigging and ample wing and tail areas

Top view of Brian’s Blackburn showing rigging and ample wing and tail areas

Brian earlier successfully built and blew a Blackburn Monoplane. He then tackled the Chickadee. Note how Brian used the Blackburn wings for the Chickadee, a smart move that saves building time.

Quiet and Electric Flight International magazine published the Chickadee plan in their Sept 2009 issue

Quiet and Electric Flight International magazine published the Chickadee plan in their Sept 2009 issue

The Chickadee was an experiment in design for me regarding wing and tail surfaces moments, areas and incidence settings. These parameters were adapted from the Sig Demoiselle kit. The Chickadee allowed for a quick built and the open layout of the wing mount allowed for easy adjustments on critical items such as the wing incidence.

My Chickadee prototype flew just fine. With the magic of TurboCAD I kept the rough wing area and incidence settings, easily grafting them onto the side view of my Blackburn plan. The result is a nice flying semi-scale model of an historic British aircraft.

Brian’s note follows:

Hi Gordon,

First, I want to tell you how enjoyable it has been to cruise lazily around the sky with my Blackburn on some calm summer evenings. A very realistic looking “days gone by” scenario.

I decided to take advantage of the Chickadee plans that came with the Blackburn but thought I would use the Blackburn wings instead of making a new, dedicated pair for the Chickadee. The Blackburn wings were a little heavier than the Chickadee plans called for of course, and I altered the wing mounting locations to suit the Blackburn wings. I did keep the wing location as shown on the Chickadee plans.

All went well. The weight before battery was 10.0 oz. However, the assembled fuse and wings was quite tail heavy and I had to add 3 oz of lead up front in a little “baggage compartment” under the nose and a 2s 800mah battery close behind the firewall to bring things in line.

I have not flown it yet. The all up weight is 15 oz., quite a bit more than the 9.5 stated on the plan. I know it will fly, just a bit faster than a lighter one. The motor is a Twisted Hobbies Crack Series 2203 – 1750kv with an 8 x 3.8 s.f. prop. I get 67 W @ 9.5A which works out to about 70W/lb. I won’t need all of that I’m sure.

I had another rare moment of genius as I wondered how I could carry it around without breaking it. I decided to modify the transport rig that I made for the Blackburn so that it could accommodate both planes (2 fuselages and one pair of wings). It works great.

I look forward to trying out the Chickadee soon. I’m sure I will love it. Thanks again, Gordon, for creating both of these aircraft.

Take care, Brian

Brian had an inspiration with his unique design of a lightweight foam carrying case.

We all know that the larger, lightweight electric models can be a challenge to transport with any amount of wind present. Brian took advantage of a common wing set for his build of the Chickadee and Blackburn, plus the fact that the wing panels are removable due to the fixed metal friction-fit mounting tubes. Note that the carrying case has the Blackburn fuselage (lower one), both wing panels and the Chickadee fuselage all in one unit. Brilliant!

Brian, thanks once again for a great recap and pictures, as well as sharing an original and innovative model transport scheme. Best of luck with your Chickadee test flights!

Close up of Chickadee nose section

Close up of Chickadee nose section


Chickadee fuselage under construction

Chickadee fuselage under construction


Detail of Chickadee fuselage, motor mount and wing tubes

Detail of Chickadee fuselage, motor mount and wing tubes


Innovative use of foam to make a lightweight model carrying case

Innovative use of foam to make a lightweight model carrying case


Huge Indoor A-10

Technology has truly revolutionized radio control model airplane flight. Indoor electric flight has been a specific beneficiary of these incredibly rapid advances.

A-10 Warthog in flight

A-10 Warthog in flight

As recently as ten years ago it was a remarkable accomplishment to simply fly a model airplane inside a local gym. Batteries and radio control hardware were heavy and the models generally underpowered.

All this changed rapidly with the introduction of micro RC gear and ready-made affordable foam model planes such as those offered by ParkZone. Suddenly, modelers had well flying aircraft that opened up an entire world of indoor RC flight to everyone

Modelers took advantage of advanced technology with light-weight building materials, advanced lipo batteries, micro RC hardware and small electric ducted fans to create advanced and well flying model airplane designs.

AN-225 "Dream"

AN-225 “Dream”

Below are two examples of these pioneering aircraft. The first video demonstrates one of the largest indoor RC aircraft I have ever seen, an A-10 flown in Germany.

The A-10 is an ideal candidate for an electric ducted fan model. The straight wing offer plenty of lift at low airspeeds.  Twin rudders combined with ailerons allow for tight turns required for a constrained flying space.  The model has full-span flaps for added indoor slow flight capability.  This particular variant even has retractable landing gear.  This plane is simply an incredible modeling and engineering accomplishment.

The second example is a smaller model of the Antonov AN-225 Mriya (Dream or Inspiration). The AN-225 is a strategic airlifter built in the Soviet Union in the 1980s to transport the Buran space shuttle aircraft.  Only one AN-225 was ever built.  It was powered by six jet turbofan engines, and the AN-225 is the longest and heaviest airplane ever constructed.
The indoor AN-225 is another remarkable example of today’s RC pilots pushing the limits of model aircraft design and performance. It is hard to imagine what future types of advanced model aircraft will show up on the flight line.


Electric Indoor A-10 from Germany


Electric powered AN-225 indoor model airplane