It is probably safe to say that everyone involved in this hobby (aircraft modelling) has dreamt of some really cool model airplane designs. I've had ideas for glow engine powered FrisbeesTM, a canard sort of thing with a sleek migrating bird shaped fuselage and an inverted gull wing having twin ducted fans in pods slung underneath, a Bücker Triplane and a lot of things I can't remember.
The Frisbee thing may not work out but I once tried bolting a Cox .049 to the center of one. It was a resounding failure that revolved slowly all the way to the ground. The rest of the designs could be made to fly but I may never build them.
Most of my designs that I've built have flown. My early attempts were not stellar examples of anything other than what can be produced by a fledgling modeler with flawed design ideas. Nevertheless, I've always found designing model aircraft to be enjoyable. I have no interest in advanced aerodynamics so I do what many others do — live by rules of thumb, learn from experience and apply the laws of aerodynamics that I do know and understand.
If any of my designs were ever subjected to wind-tunnel testing I would probably not be pleased by the results. I'm sure my designs have aerodynamic flaws that I don't know about. But that's why I don't care. I've learned a lot over the years and I'm very pleased with how my models fly for the most part.
Regardless of my lack of expert aerodynamic knowledge, I design most of my own R/C aircraft simply for the reason that it's fun and I can do anything I want. I began designing my own models because I had wood lying around that needed something done with it and I figured I'd try my hand at it.
I continued to design models because at the time kits weren't all that great. Most of them were poorly die-cut and often the wood was warped, too heavy or had other defects. Now I design because I enjoy it and to have models that are unique and are purpose-designed to do what they do better than anything commercially available.
It is not my intention to encourage everyone to design model airplanes. I simply want to pass along what I know for those who want to try it. These articles may help you learn how various design parameters affect a model even if you have no interest in designing your own.
This series will cover is a variety of model aircraft design topics while leaving you to put it all together and do the critical thinking necessary to package it into your own successful design.
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