Building Model Airplanes

Building a model airplane can be a fun hobby with a large variety of types of planes to choose from and clubs and competitions to participate in.

Before beginning to build a model airplane you need to decide what type of airplane you want to build. This decision should be based on how you want to utilize your model and what type of flying you prefer. Look for a kit with all the components in the package if you are building for the first time but you can also purchase plans will include a list of products needed as well.


Building an exact sale model of a real full-sized plane can require a lot of detail and research. Not only used for hobby and craft, a scale model can be used in the aircraft industry to test out new technology for safety and reliability before building a full-scale model. This data is valuable to airline companies as well as military professionals.

Models are also used in the film and movie industry. Remote control planes can carry small explosive devices and simulate more being shot by anti-aircraft. This saves the cinematographers time and money where vintage aircraft is rare to find and illogical to destroy for a movie.


Gliders are built to do just what the name implies - glide! The glider wings provide plenty of lift and when the plane is airborne the wind current keeps them in the air. Designed to be very lightweight hand launched models are the easiest to make and are often created using a balsa wood frame that is sanded to be smooth and aerodynamic. Chuck gliders have a wingspan of 12 to 24 inches long and may have reinforced joints for added security.

Towline gliders take off by being launched into the air with a towline similar to a kite, however the towline is released after the plane is airborne. Wings may be made from soft sheets of balsa built in sections for easy diss-assembly or might be framed and covered in tissue paper. Gliders used in competition can be very elaborate and may even have automatic rudder controls preset before the race or show.


A Model plane can also be airborne using strips of rubber that is twisted and released at a fast speed creating momentum. Their construction is similar to a glider they are easy to make and fly.

Use two people to wind the rubber motor between 50 and 100 times. Unless the rubber is quite long the flight of your plane will be a short one so you will want to cut your strip of rubber approximately 4 times as long as the width of the plane.


Made of plastic or solid balsa, these models have a miniature engine and can fly around using two lines to control the flight by applying tension to the lines attached to the plane. One line makes the model climb in the air and the other makes it dive as it races around the circle above your head. The control handle can be very sensitive to movement and will respond quickly in flight. It helps beginners to help control the plane by moving your entire arm and not just your wrist or hand. Before taking off you will want to make sure there are no knots in the lines and that the control handle is facing right side up with the down line at the bottom. When you are ready to launch face the same direction as the wind in blowing and start with short laps of about 5 times around. Fix your eyes on the model to avoid getting dizzy.

Some of these models are built to be sturdy and withstand crash landings while others are designed to perform aerobatics in the sky as in the combat competitions. Even an expert pilot can find 95-mph stunt flying a challenge and you will undoubtedly need a team with a good pit mechanic to help you perform, re-fuel and launch at competition speeds.


Obviously the most advanced model mentioned, the radio-controlled model has a radio transmitter in the control box and a receiver installed in the plane. The coded radio signals are picked up by the receiver inside the model then decoded and executed. A four-channel controller allows you to control four parts of the plane, the engine, and the rudder, the ailerons and elevators. Most complicated models have a 6-channel controller allowing for even more flexibility. The radio controlled model plane is the only type of model plane that gives you complete control over the direction, speed and height you want to fly. They are also one of the most expensive models requiring fuel, an engine and battery pack.

You will need a large amount of un-hindered space to fly in and since the plane engines can be very noisy take care to get permission to use the land before flying there. There are many competitions you can participate in with radio controlled models including races of distance, maneuvers or even length of the flight time. See if you have a local aeromodelling club in your area where you can participate in flying events.

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