There are plenty of RC Plane models available for sale, and really good ones too. Heck, there was even a few for sale locally on Facebook Market Place (about the only thing Facebook is good for anymore).

However, I was not ready to commit to shelling out a fair chunk of change to get into this hobby. Instead, I wanted to take a ground up approach where I learnt how to design and build the planes I fly. There is a couple of reasons for this approach. First, it would give me a really solid understanding of how planes are designed and how they work. Second, it would test if I am really committed to the hobby before sinking lots of money into it.

So the first thing I did was search (using Kagi, not google!) something along the lines of “How to design glider from scratch.” Half way down the first page I found this gem called Basics of Toy Gliders by Eric Brasseur. This fantastic document takes you through what each part of the plane does step-by-step. I followed along with each and every step.

It starts with you tossing a coin in the air to get it to fly. Noting that it doesn’t work it suggest attaching the coin to the middle of an index card. While this makes it fall slower, the flipping motion can hardly be called flying. Next it suggest moving the coin to the front of the index card, even having it hang off the edge a little bit.

This setup, with a coin attached to the front of the card was my first moment of true excitement. The coin/card combo flew! Not well mind you, but there was definitely forward motion that showed a glide ratio of better than a coin falling from the sky.

Armed with paddle pop sticks, hot glue, index cards and coins I spent the better part of an afternoon trying all the steps offered by Mr. Brasseur.

What followed next was my favourite part so far. I began to tinker. I’d rip wings off of the plane to try longer ones. Ones further back. Ones of a different shape. Honestly, in the past or three weeks I have made probably eight different designs with close to six or seven different variations for each one.

But after my first model I made this post on I got replies from only one person named TomKrajci and those comments are worth their weight in gold (… how much does a comment weigh?)

They directed me to this YouTube playlist By Sonja Englert on how to design your own full sized plane for flying your self in, and also pointed out a formula for sizing your planes tail. While I have not finished the playlist yet both resources have been quite enlightening.

So, let me give you the steps to learn what I know:

  1. Read Basics of Toy Gliders by Eric Brasseur
  2. Watch this YouTube playlist By Sonja Englert
  3. Read How Big The Tail by Stan Hall

… wow. There’s not much there is there? 😅

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