Publishing the Fokker Spin

 

As I have discussed elsewhere in this site, a fun and achievable goal is getting an original model airplane design published on one of the RC airplane magazines.  I am happy to report that my design of the 1911 Fokker Spin has been included in the January 2014 issue of Quiet and Electric Flight International magazine.  Publishing the Fokker Spin is my 6th issued airplane plan offered by the modeling press.

Page 1 of the Jan 2014 Quiet and Electric Flight International publication of the Fokker Spin plan

Page 1 of the Jan 2014 Quiet and Electric Flight International publication of the Fokker Spin plan

 As an aside, Q&EFI magazine is a worthwhile publication to subscribe to.  The magazine focuses on gliders and electric radio control flight.  The contributor staff is energetic and exceptionally well informed on all matters relating to electric RC flight.  I learn something from every issue.


 The magazine in headquartered in the United Kingdom.  I obtained my subscription from the folks at Amazon, of all places.  Amazon has a useful section for all sorts of magazine offerings.

 So how does one go about getting an RC model design published?  The first step, of course, is to design an airplane.  As I add to this site I will include more insights as to how to begin this creative process.  The main point is to start with an easy design (trainer, etc.) and advance to more challenging projects as your design skills mature.

Any model airplane design will need some sort of plan that others may use to build their variant.  Plans can be hand drawn.  But for ease of preparation, sharing and transmission to a prospective publisher, the only way ahead is to learn how to draw a set of plans on your computer with a Computer Aided Design (CAD) program.  I fully endorse TurboCAD, which I have been using since 2000 for all of my model aircraft designs.

I recommend making at least two iterations of any new model airplane design.  Make an initial prototype for the first test flights and a second more finalized version incorporating all the lessons learned during the initial hops.

Be sure to document your building progress with numerous pictures, which will be required by any prospective publisher for the article.  Use a camera that can take detailed construction photos that will assist builders with understanding the details of the model’s construction.

 

Fokker Spin prototype

Holding the Spin Prototype

Once a set of plans is prepared and the model is flying properly, take some flight photos and videos.  The publisher needs assurance that the design does in fact fly.  I use a digital video camcorder to obtain various flying shots and the free Windows Live Movie Maker program to do basic video editing and to add the narration.

The final item you will need to do is write up a construction article with a bill of materials.

Once all these tasks are accomplished, now for the most important step:  Getting in touch with an RC model magazine editor.  How is this done?

 

Cover of the January 2014 issue of Quiet and Electric Flight International magazine - Fokker Spin construction article part of this issue

Cover of the January 2014 issue of Quiet and Electric Flight International magazine – Fokker Spin construction article part of this issue

There is no hard and fast way to do this. But the best way ahead is to simply send an e-mail, followed by a regular letter sent via postal mail, to the editor of a series of modeling magazines.  The magazines will always have a “Contact Us” e-mail address somewhere either in the magazine or on their website. 

Put together an introductory e-mail telling them a bit about yourself and that you have a model airplane design ready to go that includes everything from plans to a construction article to photos.  Include, pasted into the e-note (not as an attachment, for ease of viewing) several pictures of your design.

Magazine publishers are always looking for new inputs.  The goal is to get a response, followed by an e-mail address for that editor.  Establish a relationship with the editor by promptly responding to their questions.

T

Page 4 of Quiet and Electric Flight International publication of the Fokker Spin plan

Page 4 of Quiet and Electric Flight International publication of the Fokker Spin plan

he editor will want to see the construction article as well as the plans.  There will be someone on staff who will modify the plans to meet the magazine’s requirements.  This might include fitting the design into a format for an included pull-out plan (as was done for the Fokker Spin), or a larger and more detailed plan that must be mail ordered.

The digital photos are a bit more of a challenge.  The magazine will need the original photos that they will then edit.  The photos usually need to be at least 1 megabit in size, which are large files to e-mail.  Generally, these e-mail attachments are too large when we are talking about several pictures.

 

Dummy engine and rigging wire details

Dummy engine and rigging wire details

In the past, I would copy the photos onto a CD and mail them to the publisher.  This is a cumbersome process.  Today, the absolute best way to transfer any large files is via Dropbox

Dropbox is free for an initial amount of uploads, which will be more than sufficient for our purposes.  Once you obtain an account you upload the files for your design project to a folder on the Dropbox site.  Dropbox will allow you to e-mail a link to these uploaded files, and the recipient simply downloads the files to their computer.  It could not be any easier.  I have transferred all of my model airplane plans and TurboCAD training materials sold from this website to Dropbox.  I can easily send these files to customers around the world from my iPhone, simply amazing.

The editor will have a few questions for you as they work towards their publishing deadlines.  All of these inquiries are easy for you to answer and will help build a relationship with the magazine staff. 

It is a lot of fun to view the finalized design in the magazine as well as receiving a check that is some measure of compensation for your efforts.  Good luck on this.  Remember, nothing ventured, nothing gained!

Author:  Gordon McKay