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.

Jim’s Planes

One of the nice aspects of hosting a website is hearing from other modelers regarding their radio control flying and design experiences.

Jim getting Bleriot ready for a flight

Jim getting Bleriot ready for a flight

A great example is a note I received from Jim T. Jim enjoys flying aircraft designed and flown in the first decade of flight.  Those early aviation pioneers were still working to figure out what worked to make a practical flying machine.  The designs had a lot of character.

Best of all, due to the underpowered engines available at the time, the planes usually had sufficient wing area to fly low and slow.

I built a model of the Sig Demoiselle as well as created original designs such as the Blackburn Monoplane and the Fokker Spin. Jim actually designed a larger one quarter scale Blackburn as you can see in the pictures below.  Note that Jim used a convention Clark Y airfoil for his wing on the Blackburn and it worked out just fine.  This is a great example of doing what is needed to make a successful flying model.

Jim with Bleriot awards

Jim with Bleriot awards

Jim wanted to experiment with some smaller, electric powered models and he ordered my Blackburn plan. I cannot wait to see the results of his masterful craftsmanship with his build of the electric Blackburn.

Below are Jim’s remarks regarding his design and experience:

Hello again Gordon.  When I became fascinated with these old aircraft about 15 years ago no drawings were available anywhere so I obtained some early information on the Bleriot from mostly just hand sketches.

The information was all in the German language. After many one word at a time translations via the internet I drew up a workable plan.  I like to call this approach “cave man engineering” as in both aircraft I forgot about the 7 to 8 degree positive wing incidence characteristic of these underpowered planes.

I decided to use a more modern Clark Y wing for my quarter scale Blackburn, all in all fortunate for me as the plan worked out very successful.

During the first few flights of the Bleriot I had to forget all that I learned about radio control flying and start a new learning curve using cross control to counter adverse yaw during turns as well as employing rudder only and power-on landings (Editor’s note: The high drag inherent with these early designs mandated using lots of power for landings.  Any attempt to glide in would result in a very sudden drop for a hard landing).

As for the Blackburn that aircraft was a dream to build using my own plan. The flight characteristics were miles ahead of the early Bleriot.  I have won many awards and accolades with them both.  I must confess they are not 100% scale.  Here are some more pictures for you.

Cheers, Jim T.

 

Front view of Jim's 1912 Blackburn Monoplane

Front view of Jim’s 1912 Blackburn Monoplane

 

Detail of the Bleriot landing gear

Detail of the Bleriot landing gear

 

Front view of Jim's Bleriot

Front view of Jim’s Bleriot

 

Getting ready to taxi the Blackburn

Getting ready to taxi the Blackburn

Low flyby of the Blackburn Monoplane

Low flyby of the Blackburn Monoplane

Swedish Chickadee

Mountain Models Mini-Flash (circa 2003) on garage workbench

Mountain Models Mini-Flash (circa 2003) on garage workbench

We are getting settled in to our new house and I even have my new work table set up in the garage. Note the Mountain Models Mini-Flash on a pile of modeling supplies. Looking forward to getting this very nice model back in the air soon!

One of the fun items related to working on this website is the wide range of modelers I come into contact with.

Below is a nice note that came in yesterday from Stefan in Sweden, looking to purchase a set of Chickadee plans.

 

Chickadee RC model plane

Chickadee with Spektrum transmitter

The Chickadee was my first indoor electric radio control model design. I use an evolutionary approach to model aircraft design, in the sense I gain knowledge and insights from earlier models that I make, from kits or plans, and incorporate these various design elements into my aircraft layouts.
In the case of the Chickadee I had just built the Sig Demoiselle kit. I was impressed with Sig’s use of the wing construction method taking ¼ inch square balsa stock and sanding into a round dowel shape, and using these as fore and aft spars for the wing. I also gained understanding as to wing incidence settings that worked out well for this slow flyer.

This is a strong and light weight method to construct an indoor RC model’s wing. I used this technique on the Chickadee as well as the Blackburn.

I wish Stefan all the best with his build of the Chickadee and look forward to seeing some pictures of the finished model!

 

Gordon holding the Chickadee electric RC plane

Gordon holding the Chickadee electric RC plane

E-mails from yesterday:

From: Stefan
To: chickadeeplane <chickadeeplane@aol.com>
Sent: Sun, Nov 1, 2015
Subject: Re: Chickadee plans for download?
Hi Gordon,

Thank you for the plans.

Svenska Modellflygförbundet, SMFF (the Swedish version of AMA) will have a flying session next Friday at an indoor soccer field. I will try my best to have the Chickadee ready for that occasion. If not – there’s a new opportunity just after Christmas.

If I get her finished I promise to have some pictures for you.

Stefan
______________________________________________________

Chickadee RC plane nose section

Chickadee nose section

Den 2015-11-01 19:20, chickadeeplane@aol.com skrev:

Stefan,

Dropbox link just sent, plz share any pictures, will include on my blog!

Gordon

Gordon McKay
www.ElectricPlanebyGordon.com
www.IndoorFlyingModel.com
__________________________________________________________

—–Original Message—–
From: Stefan
To: chickadeeplane
Sent: Sun, Nov 1, 2015
Subject: Re: Chickadee plans for download?
Gordon,

Thank you for your prompt answer.

The purchase is made. Thanks again for an excellent site with lots of inspiration.

Stefan

_______________________________________________________

Chickadee RC model plane front view

Chickadee RC model plane front view

Den 2015-11-01 18:10, chickadeeplane@aol.com :

Stefan,

Glad you like the site!

The PDF of the Chickadee plan is a package included with the Blackburn plan.

On www.ElectricPlanebyGordon.com click on the “Store” pull down menu, and select the Blackburn plan ($7.00). The Chickadee plan is part of this offering, and will be sent to you via e-mail.

Regards,

Gordon

Gordon McKay
www.ElectricPlanebyGordon.com
www.IndoorFlyingModel.com

___________________________________________________________

—–Original Message—–
From: Stefan
To: chickadeeplane <chickadeeplane@aol.com>
Sent: Sat, Oct 31, 2015
Subject: Chickadee plans for download?

Hello

I found your excellent site while looking for an easy built indoor

model, and I fell totally for the Chickadee. I don’t mind purchasing good
work, but I could only find the plans available as printed plans.

Therefore, I would like to ask if the plans are available as pdf-purchase to save a lot of time.

With Kindest Regards

Stefan
Sollentuna, Sweden

Chickadee Gallery Added

Chickadee RC model plane front view

Chickadee RC model plane front view

I added a fourth picture gallery to the site today, this one on the Chickadee three channel RC plane.

I designed the Chickadee in 2009 to experiment with the construction techniques I learned while building the Sig Demoiselle.  The Chickadee has a similar wingspan at 44 inches, and refined the design concept of using fuselage mounted metal tubes for the wing dowels.

The Chickadee flew fine and gave me further insight at how much wing positive incidence to set for these slow flyers.  The general outline and proportions of the Chickadee were replicated in my Blackburn plan.

The Chickadee to Blackburn is a great example of incremental design steps.  The Chickadee is a simple build with its open fuselage framework.  CAD plans are available when you purchase the Blackburn plans.

Picture Gallery and Demoiselle Video

I added a very useful plug in program today to display picture galleries.  See the one I posted today on the Sig Demoiselle here.  You can view the pictures as a slide show, or click on one of the pictures to view in full size.  Arrows at the bottom go to the next picture.  This is a great way to see close detail on the various model pictures.

I also completed a new update for the video of the Sig Demoiselle three channel RC airplane kit.  You can view the YouTube video here, towards the bottom of the page.

Sig did a superb job with the engineering of their kit.  The Demoiselle is not an easy aircraft to model, with its

Sig Demoiselle RC balsa kit

Demoiselle ready for flight

open fuselage frame and extremely short nose moment.  But Sig somehow figured it out, and the Demoiselle flies like a dream.

The original Demoiselle was designed in 1908 by the famed Brazilian aviator, Alberto Santos-Dumont, while he was living in Paris.  The plane was small with a 20 horsepower engine.

Santo-Dumont had a vision, and that vision was that others should be able to use and enjoy his remarkable aircraft.  Thus, Santo-Dumont made the plans for the Demoiselle available for anyone, in a word open source.  And this was in 1908, just amazing.

This led to the Demoiselle being the world’s first series production airplane, with around 20 lot from a planned production run of 50.