Fokker Spin Enlargement and Video



Fokker Spin in flight

Fokker Spin in flight

Two updates added to the site this weekend. The first is a video of the final version of my 1911 Fokker Spin design, shown on the video page

The Spin is one of my favorite design projects.  The plane has a lot of character with its swept wings and flat frame fuselage, and the ability to easily add simulated rigging with the one of a kind fuselage cabane struts.  You can purchase a set of plans here.

As I usually do with my model airplane designs, I made two variants of the Spin.  The first is a prototype, to ensure the model will properly fly, has enough power, etc.  Once these details are squared away, a second version is built with all of the design inputs from the prototype incorporated.  I then add all of these improvements to the final set of plans.

The second item I added is a picture gallery of Werner’s wonderful version of the Spin.  Werner purchased a set of plans and enlarged them 225%.  This changed the wingspan from my design of 28 inches to Werner’s output with 63 inches. 

This larger model handles well and looks great in the air.  Plus, the larger size is ideal for adding details to the dummy motor, extensive flying wires and adding a pilot figure.  Enlarging plans is a great way to adapt any model airplane plan to create a personalized RC model.


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

Blackburn Video and New Publication

Apologies that I have been late with updates to the site. My son, Michael, is getting married on November 9th. As you can imagine, lots of happy work getting ready for that occasion. I look forward to adding much more information after this event.

Top view of Pietenpol Air Camper

Top view of Pietenpol Air Camper

For now, three items to discuss. The first is the addition of an updated video on the Blackburn Type D monoplane. The Blackburn remains one of the most popular plans on the website, with numerous variants being built. All report a well flying model, with the most recent being Steve Moskal.

The video adds some more details on the thought process behind the design. The main item I highlighted is the use of a plywood frame for the upper portion of the fuselage. On this 1/16 inch plywood frame, that is all part of the fuselage, I installed the motor, landing gear, wing mounts, batter and servos.

This is a simple and elegant method to provide structural strength to all the principal aircraft components, without adding a lot of unneeded structure. This is an important item with the fragile construction methods used for these early aircraft designs. This approach can be used for a wide range of other modeling design projects.

Stevens Aeromodel Air Camper in flight

Stevens Aeromodel Air Camper in flight

Speaking of Steve, he did such a superb job with his build of the Blackburn that I added a dedicated picture gallery of his progress. Steve added just the right touches with silver solder, metallic covering of the cowl and a beefed up wing rib structure. This is all part of the fun of using a model airplane construction plan and making thoughtful additions and changes on your own.

Finally for this post, I have had another article published in the modeling press. This is a four page review of the Stevens Aeromodel Pietenpol Air Camper model in the November 2013 issue of Quiet and Electric Flight International magazine.

All of the Stevens Aeromodel laser cut kits are top notch, and the Pietenpol is no exception. The model goes together quickly and is a lot of fun to build. The aircraft is designed around the ParkZone micro electronics (for sale at Stevens Aeromodel as well) and flies exceptionally well. Q&EFI did a great job with this article.

Again, more to follow after the wedding!

Pietenpol Air Camper review in November 2013 Quiet and Electric Flight International magazine

Pietenpol Air Camper review in November 2013 Quiet and Electric Flight International magazine


Four page of Air Camper review in November 2013 Quiet and Electric Flight International magazine

Page 4 of Air Camper review in November 2013 Quiet and Electric Flight International magazine


Wing Incidence and Blackburn Gallery


I added a page today discussing an airplane’s wing incidence angle setting. Getting the wing incidence right is an important part of any aircraft design, whether model or full scale.

Bleriot nose detail

Bleriot wing incidence setting

Most sport radio control model aircraft do well with around 1 to 2 degrees of positive wing incidence. For a variety of reasons this setting will make for a more stable model, one that will not hunt around seeking a pitch attitude.

Many of the newer, lightweight 3D aerobatic models come with flat airfoils and a zero degree wing incidence setting. This works well for these unique flyers in that the aircraft are rarely flying “on the wing” but rather maintaining flight directly from engine thrust.

BlackburnTopView-1000Hovering flight is an excellent demonstration of this concept. When an aircraft is hovering the wing is not producing any lift. The entire aircraft is held aloft by the thrust of the motor alone.

I discuss my experience determining the proper wing incidence during the design of the Chickadee, Blackburn and Fokker Spin. I went through an interesting trial and error process during test flights. This investigation was prompted by Werner asking a question on the differing incidence settings for the Blackburn and the Spin.

As an aside, from my USAF time flying in the F-4 Phantom, the example of a hovering 3D radio control model is a case where the thrust-to-weight ratio of the aircraft is greater than one. With the light aircraft weight compared to the power of today’s model aircraft engines, it is not at all difficult to exceed a 1:1 thrust ratio.

Chickadee electric RC plane front view

Chickadee electric RC plane front view

Some military jet fighter aircraft can exceed a 1:1 thrust ratio. This is typically at a lower fuel weight, soon before a landing is required. Due to the lack of airflow over the control surfaces typically found on a turbine powered aircraft, there is no way a full scale jet fighter can hover even though it might have enough thrust.

I am unaware of any full scale piston powered propeller driven aircraft that have enough engine thrust to hover. There is one group modifying a turboprop Super Tucano acrobatic biplane that will attempt this feat. We’ll see!

I also added a new picture gallery of the Blackburn. The photos show the Blackburn under construction, details of the wing, fuselage and landing gear, the aircraft in flight and some views of Werner’s version. Werner enlarged the plans 125%. The result is a well handling model that flies in a scale-like manner. Do check out the YouTube video.

Fokker Spin Plan and Pictures


1911 Fokker Spin top view

1911 Fokker Spin top view

I added a new page this weekend describing the final version of my RC model of the Fokker Spin plan and scale detailing. The Spin was a remarkable aircraft, designed by the famed World War I fighter aircraft designer Anthony Fokker in 1911. Fokker was just 21 years old at the time and he used the Spin to teach himself how to fly.

Anthony Fokker’s trainer was a well-designed aircraft for that period. The Spin would be a challenge for today’s pilot to fly given the exposed cockpit and rudimentary controls. Fokker’s ability to take the Spin safely aloft and somehow learn how to fly is a testament to the skill and daring of these early aviation pioneers.

The Spin makes for a pleasing sport scale radio control model plane. I designed the Spin with a 28 inch wingspan, which works well for the ParkZone line of ultra-micro radio control electronics. The ParkZone electronics can be purchased at Stevens AeroModel.

I first built and flew a Spin prototype to see how the model handled with its unique swept wings and all-moving rudder. Note that I located the radio control electronics on top of the prototype’s fuselage for ease of installation.

On the final version of the Spin I relocated the RC electronics to the fuselage underside. This did a good job of keeping the ESC brick out of view, yet keeping the same control rod runs to the tail surfaces.

Dummy engine and rigging wire details

Dummy engine and rigging wire details

The Spin’s final version also allowed for some fun with decorating the model. The exposed engine can be detailed with balsa blocks, heat shrink sleeves and metal tubes to simulate exhaust stacks. The original Spin had numerous cabane struts that added to the model’s visual appeal. Thread is used for simulated rigging and flying wires.

The final item is the landing gear. The secret here is the easy to bend 0.032 inch music wire. Take your time studying the pictures and plans to install the gear. Axles are held in place with thread and glue. The skids are made from bamboo skewers purchased at the local grocery store.

CAD Spin plans are available for $6.95. I’ll e-mail the plans to you on three sheets in a PDF format, which can be printed on any home computer. Print the sheets out and enlarge at a nearby FedEx Office or other graphics store to full size. Good luck with your Spin build. Send me photos of your finished model and I’ll post to the website.

Full scale Fokker Spin getting ready for takeoff

Full scale Fokker Spin getting ready for takeoff

I also added a page with a fifth picture gallery to the site, this one of the final version of the Spin. In these pictures you can view details of the installation of the ParkZone microelectronics to the fuselage underside, as well as the unique landing gear arrangement. As discussed earlier the landing gear is simple to fabricate from the lightweight music wire, offers plenty of strength and adds a lot to the visual appeal of the model.

1911 Fokker Spin radio control model airplane in flight

1911 Fokker Spin in flight

The Spin relied on extensive flying wire rigging to hold the entire structure together. Note that the fuselage is nothing more than a flat, open wood frame. Fokker included a unique arrangement of fore and aft cabane struts on the full scale version. These music wire struts are easy to install on the radio control model. Sewing thread is used to simulate the flying and rigging wires. This is a simple task and adds a lot to the final appearance of this historical aircraft.

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.

Electro Aviator Plans For Sale


Electro Aviator model plane

Electro Aviator top view

I successfully made several updates to the website today. I am making steady progress with learning the various ins and outs of WordPress. WordPress is one amazing program for building a website, and I am looking forward to adding more content.

PayPal button

I now have my first PayPal button up, for the Electro Aviator CAD plans. The PayPal button is near the bottom of the page.

I designed the Electro Aviator in 2006 and the four channel model was published in March 2007 by Quiet and Electric Flight International magazine. The CAD plans are available via e-mail for $5.00. The files are in a CAD (Computer Aided Design) format. The three plan files are in TurboCAD, AutoCAD Native Format (DWG) and Drawing eXchange Format (DXF).

Printing CAD plans

The important point is that you will need some sort of CAD program or CAD file reader to open the files and print them out. This could be on your computer, a friend’s computer or at a local graphics store. If you have access to a plotter, the plans will print out full size.

Detail of Electro Aviator nose section drawn with TurboCAD

Detail of Electro Aviator nose section drawn with TurboCAD

The alternate way to make a full size paper copy of the Electro Aviator plans is to take the path I followed. TurboCAD (or whatever CAD program you are using) makes it very easy to print out your plans on regular 8.5” by 11” paper on your home printer, usually with a command along the lines of “Fit to Print.”

The print section will list a ratio of the “Fit to Size” print out as compared to the full size CAD plan. Convert this ratio to an enlargement ratio. At a printing shop such as FedEx/Kinko, they have computerized large format printers that will scan the smaller print of your plans and enlarge to whatever percentage size is entered into the scanner. It really is a neat capability, and a simple way to print out full size CAD plans from a smaller image, without the need for a plotter.

I included two views of the Electro Aviator plans on the web page. Scroll down to the bottom of the page. You can see the full set of plans followed by a detail of the forward fuselage.

TurboCAD is the answer for anyone wanting to draw a set of model aircraft plans. I have a very useful three hour narrated training CD I made that takes you step by step from a clean sheet of paper to a finished design. The CD is for sale at my older website, The CD will be available on this site shortly as I continue the migration.

TurboCAD plan for the Electro Aviator

TurboCAD plan for the Electro Aviator

Electro Aviator picture gallery

I also added a third picture gallery, this one for the Electro Aviator. I now know how to make the picture file size a bit smaller (with Photoshop) so that the pictures load quickly when called up in WordPress, but the pictures still retain their full detail. In the gallery the best way to view an image is to tap once on a thumbnail. The full size picture will show. Arrows underneath the picture let you advance. To return to the thumbnails, just tap on the full size picture once.


Picture Gallery Update

I have figured out the best way now to properly install and prepare the various picture galleries for this site.

The key item is to ensure the picture files are reduced in size to properly (i.e. quickly) load into your view.  The way to accomplish this is via a photo editing program such as Photoshop Elements, an affordable and very capable image editing program.

Pictures need to be around 1,000 pixels in size.  This results in a file size that loads quickly, yet offers great detail when viewed full size.

Fokker Spin

Prototype Fokker Spin top view

I added a second picture gallery today for the Fokker “Spin” prototype three channel radio control model plane.  The Spin prototype ensured my design was the right size (28 inch wingspan) for the ParkZone electronics and motor combination, as well as verifying the wing incidence setting, control throws, etc.

Note also that the Spin prototype does not have any of the simulated cabane struts or rigging wires.  The prototype also uses a single, conventional landing gear, again for ease of installation.  The attractive landing gear arrangement of the full scale Spin is included in the final version, and really makes the model “come alive.”

Note also on the prototype that I mounted the radio control electronics on the top of the Spin.  This approach was taken to ease the installation.  On the final version of the Spin, which will be discussed in a later post, I moved the electronics to the fuselage underside.

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.