Atlanta Move Update

It has been an incredibly busy past few weeks. While not much has happened directly regarding model aviation, a lot has taken place that will set the stage for a great deal of future RC modeling activity.

First, my work as a First Officer with United Express at Washington Dulles airport is going very well. I have 230 hours in the CRJ-700 aircraft as of yesterday to include 83.2 hours over the past 28 days. It was a busy month!

Mini Flash RC model airplane by Mountain Models

Mini Flash RC model airplane by Mountain Models

Our move south to Atlanta is going well. We will travel to Atlanta tomorrow morning and close on our new house August 11th. Movers will be here in Chicago on Aug 25th for our household goods shipment. Our move should be complete by mid-October.

I will have an ample building area in our new house so the door is open for a wide range of new RC building, design and YouTube projects. I am very excited.

Yankee Mike RC model airplane fuselage

Yankee Mike RC model airplane fuselage

I also plan on updating some of my older models with lipo batteries and newer engines. For example, I have not flown my old Mountain Models Mini Flash since 2005 due to the extensive winds in the Chicago area.

Many of the Mountain Models kits are available on-line. You should take a look. Mountain Models offered a great line of aircraft kits with extensive CAD engineering to ensure a lightweight and strong model.

Recall, these models were produced in the day of heavy NiCads and brushed electric motors. The upgrade to lipo power and newer brushless motors transforms these great flyers.

I also plan to get my second original RC model design, the Electro Aviator, back into the air. Plans for the Electro Aviator are here. The model has only been flown with NiCads and a brushless motor. The addition of lipos will make for an interesting increase in performance.

More to follow!

New Sitemap Added

Sometimes it is the little things in life that make a difference.  In this case, I have finally installed a useful Sitemap!

Simply click on the “Sitemap” tab just below the Sig Demoiselle picture on the upper banner.  The sitemap is pretty cool.  It lists every page on the site, as well as each Blog post as it relates to the various categories.

WordPress is an incredible program for anyone wanting an easy to use and incredibly functional tuood to build and maintain a website.  I used Dreamweaver for several years.  While DW was an industry standard program it took a LOT of time and effort to get a Dreamweaver site to where you wanted it.

I look forward to further updates on this site now that my Mesa training has reached a leveling off point.  Thanks again for stopping by!

Mesa Airlines

Study materials for airline flying

Study materials for airline flying

Hello, everyone. Thanks once again for visiting my website . . . it is always fun to share my electric radio control activities with other modelers.

As you have undoubtedly noticed, there have not been many recent additions to the site. The answer to this is that I have been 100% focused on my upcoming training with Mesa Airlines to be a First Officer, flying the CRJ-700/900 aircraft.

CRJ-700/900 Regional Jet

CRJ-700/900 Regional Jet

I depart on January 22 for Phoenix, Arizona for my flight training with Mesa Airlines. Training should last around ten weeks and will involve airline indoctrination, ground school, simulators and Initial Operational Experience flying the CRJ. It will be a great deal of work but I am looking forward to the task. Plus, it has been fun getting back into the books with various aviation subjects.

Standing by a Cessna 172 at DuPage Airport, IL

Standing by a Cessna 172 at DuPage Airport, IL


The good news is that once I am done with training and flying the line, I will have time to once again get back into RC modeling and more adventures with aircraft design and electric flight.

Please note that all of my model airplane plans, TurboCAD training videos, etc. will continue to ship while I am in training with Mesa.

Until then, all the best with your RC flying and I look forward to corresponding with you in the very near future!

TurboCAD, ParkZone and Fond du Lac


I made three new additions to the website over the past week.

The first item is an updated video on using TurboCAD to draw radio control model airplane plans. TurboCAD is a sound computer aided design (CAD) program choice for the RC hobbyist who wants to prepare a set of model aircraft construction plans.

ParkZone combination receiver, two servos and electronic speed control

ParkZone combination receiver, two servos and electronic speed control

TurboCAD is affordable at around $130 for the deluxe version (includes 2D and 3D drawing tools). TurboCAD is easy to learn once you understand some of the fundamental tasks that any CAD program employs, such as trim, snap and mirror.

The video gives an introduction to the TurboCAD user interface. You will see a demonstration of the thought out and flexible user interface, such as floating tool bars. You will also understand that you need to learn just a few basic commands (lines, circles and curves) to draw a set of plans. There is no need to study every nuance of this mature CAD program.

I added a page on the ParkZone line of ultra-micro radio control electronics. The ParkZone RC gear is installed in their popular Bind-N-Fly line of ready to fly foam micro RC models.

Albatross WW-I fighter at Fond du Lac RC Airshow

Albatross WW-I fighter at Fond du Lac RC Airshow

The ParkZone combo has a “brick” that contains a radio receiver, electronic speed control and two linear servos matched with a tiny geared electric motor. This unit makes a compact power and control solution for models weighing less than about three ounces and having a wingspan of under about 30 inches. You really cannot go wrong using the ParkZone electronics unit in your next indoor flyer.

Although this website is focused on electric radio controlled model aircraft, I do like to cover other interesting RC models and events. On Aug 16th I had the chance to visit the Fond du Lac “Warbirds and Classics Over the Midwest” model airplane meet at Wellnitz Field. This superb flying facility is located about a 2.5 hour drive north of Chicago.

The four day fun fly, held in August each year, was well run. Lots of pilots flew an interesting mix of large scale military aircraft. The craftsmanship and flying were exceptional. Jet turbine, gas engine and electric powered models were airborne at all times. Below is a video of my tour of the flight line and pit area.


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.

Fokker Spin plans

Guillow Lancer - free flight kit converted to radio control

Guillow Lancer – free flight kit converted to radio control

I made several additions to the website this weekend. Hope you like them!

I added a new page on what size model airplane to design to. It might seem obvious, but you need to think ahead as to what size model you wish to create. This could be governed by the size of your workshop, amount of budget or type of flying you wish to do.

In my case I enjoy making smaller models for indoor flight. I have access to a great indoor flight facility at the Field House of a local education center.

ParkZone electronic speed control, dual servo and receiver brick

ParkZone electronic speed control, dual servo and receiver brick

The ParkZone line of ultra-micro electronics is ideal for these sorts of indoor flyers. I use the three channel set up originally used in the ParkZone foam ready to fly P-51 Mustang.

The electronic speed control, two linear servos and a receiver are all in one compact unit. The geared electric motor and 160 milliamp lipo battery all work together well. Based on experience, this combo will work fine is a model with a wingspan of under 30 inches and a weight less than three ounces

Once you figure out these sorts of parameters you have a great starting point for future designs.

This is just the approach I took with my design of the 1911 Fokker Spin. CAD plans for the Spin are now for sale under the “Store” menu tab. The plans are available for $6.95. I’ll e-mail the plans is a PDF format. You will need to print them out and enlarge 279% for create a full size print out. Plan enlargement is easy using scanners at a service such as FedEx Office.

1911 Fokker Spin front view showing dummy balsa engine cover

1911 Fokker Spin front view showing dummy balsa engine cover

The Spin is designed around the ParkZone electronics and motor. The aircraft has a 28 inch wingspan and weighs just under three ounces. The Spin is easy to build, looks great and is a smooth flyer. See the video of the prototype Spin design here.

The final addition to the website is the use of a WordPress plug in for optimizing the site’s appearance on a smaller mobile device such as an iPhone. The site’s appearance work is all done in the background.

When viewing the website on something like an iPhone, the program automatically senses the smaller device and creates an entirely new presentation of the menus and browsing function to optimize the smaller screen at the best user advantage.

As so many folks are using mobile devices these days, this is yet another demonstration of the benefits of using WordPress to host a website.

Author:  Gordon McKay

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.

Site Updates

Guillow Lancer model airplane

Guillow Lancer – free flight to RC conversion

I am making very good progress both learning WordPress and adding to this site.  For anyone out there thinking about making their own website, WordPress is the way to go.  Period dot.

I had a great time over the past four years working with Dreamweaver to build my former site,  But with all the changes in Google algorithms and search procedures, now is the time to make the transition to WordPress.  Bottom line is a much more attractive site and user-friendly experience for you, the visitor.

I’ll have all my model airplane plans and TurboCAD training CDs on this site shortly.  It will just take some time to get everything moved over.  Plus, I’ll review all the text to ensure it reads better.

I will also be updating my YouTube videos.  I have 38 videos up (go here and search for gbmckay).  I have learned a LOT since my first video efforts went public.  Little things, like adding a narration.  Anyhow, lots more to offer now that I have a better idea of what to do and what to include.

I am happy to report that my YouTube videos have a total of over 1,085,310 (as in over one million) views and 326 subscribers.  By next weekend I will add a nice update on my Demoiselle video.  Please check back for results!