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Help! 2019 Fantasy Aircraft Design & Build Challenge!


Skill Collector
I'm taking on the role again as volunteer coordinator for what will be an excellent community focused design and build challenge for the Flite Test Forum Community and Flite Fest events in 2019 (but not necessarily the only one). The guidelines are heavily based on the last few years of experience and feedback from the amazing amount of fun and participation we have had.

Please share the link to this thread to everywhere you know Flite Test fans might see it. We want as many community members participating as possible to spread the fun! :D

Screenshot 2019-02-11 18.06.09.png

2019 Flite Test Forum & Flite Fest Community Fantasy Aircraft Design & Build Challenge


Participants will design and build an electric motor driven, radio-controlled airplane model of a fantasy aircraft or flying machine, demonstrate that it is capable of controlled flight, and release the plans freely to the community. At the end of the design portion of the competition, a panel selected from the Flite Test forums will score the entries and select winners from the completed and flight-proven models posted on the forums. Additionally, in-person group activities will occur at the 2019 Flite Fest events to celebrate and demonstrate the accomplishments of the participants for those who can attend. In-person participation at a Flite Fest event is not required to participate in this challenge.


  • Celebrate the obscure, unusual, whimsical, and bizarre variety of imaginative flying machines
  • Foster interest in building foam board model aircraft from community plans
  • Promote designing and building as one of the aspects of the FT community
  • Compete in flying events where any level of experience can be a winner
  • Engage in some friendly forum banter :)

Part 1 - The Design-Off Rules:

1. Subject must resemble an aircraft or flying machine that was depicted as being able to carry people (or drone capable of similar sized payload), but never successfully built and flown at full scale. This includes but is not limited to:
  • Military design sketches / plans (Yak-43)
  • Aircraft from TV shows / movies / anime (SHIELD Quinjet)
  • Fictional spacecraft (Firefly)
  • Civilian aircraft designs (Gee-Bee R-3)
  • Comic book aircraft (Batplane)
  • Video game aircraft (Fallout's Stingray Deluxe)
  • Toy aircraft (Airhogs)

For more ideas check out this list https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Fictional_aircraft

Please consult the community in this thread if you have doubts about a specific aircraft's inclusion.

2. All designs must use electric power with motors from (or equivalent to) one of the Flite Test Power Packs. Exceptions for really crazy planes can be proposed, but are discouraged in the scoring. This way the largest number of community members can participate with existing or easily accessible equipment. Until Flite Test makes available an EDF power pack, jet or rocket designs may use any available EDF or modify the airframe for pusher prop or prop-in-slot with no scoring penalty. Actual Estes rocket motors are acceptable if appropriate to the design, but no hand-mixed rocket motors. We want everyone to keep their fingers.

3. As these are fantastical flying machines, scale is largely irrelevant. Build as big or small as you like :D

4. FT building techniques are a great foundation, but other more advanced techniques are welcome! Keep in mind that others may want to build YOUR airplane and may require additional skills to do so - be sure to provide clear build instructions for any non FT techniques used in your design.

5. To include as many pilots and teams in the challenge as we can, aircraft are encouraged to have multiple flight crew members to operate bomb drops, camera surveillance, turret functions, parasitic vehicles, etc.

6. Entries must demonstrate that they are capable of controlled flight before the Design-Off closing date to be considered for judging for the Design-Off portion of the community challenge. Only videos of the entry in flight will be considered proof of flight-worthiness.

7. Already started builds may be entered.

8. A complete set of digital plans must be available in the FT Forums Resource area by the close of the Design-Off. Vector-based formats are preferred but not required.

9. Build instructions MUST be provided through video instruction, textual write-up, or build log. Techniques different from standard Flite Test skills should be clearly explained. An excellent example can be found here: http://forum.flitetest.com/showthread.php?36200-Baby-Bugatti-700m

10. Participants may submit more than one entry, and multiple entries for the same design from different participants are awesome - especially if they use different build or design techniques.

11. Participants in the design challenge do not need to be able to attend an in-person Flite Test event (although we hope you can!) Scoring and adjudication of the design entries will occur through and be announced via the FT forums.

Coordinator's Instructions:

  • Registration for the Design portion of the challenge will be by posting participant members’ FT user name, the model to be entered, and a link to the entries build thread in this main challenge thread, NOT via PM to the OP. All aspects of the design challenge are coordinated virtually through the forum: in person participation or demonstration is not required (and in fact not available).

    Entry format:

    Awesome Forum Member's Name
    Fantasy Plane Name
    [Insert picture of the inspirational aircraft in action]

    Build threads should be titled in the format:

    FTFC19 [plane name] designed by [designer name]

    With the FTFC19 shortened version of 'Flite Test Forums Challenge for 2019' in the prefix so searches and causal forum browsers are all more likely to notice these projects.

    Entrants are encouraged to add why they chose this model, and link to documentation for challenge appropriateness of the design for this challenge. (Wikipedia, Janes' Planes, etc.) Links to historical confirmation should be in the build thread for scoring purposes.

  • Registration for Design entries will open August 1, 2018.
  • The Design portion of the challenge will end on February 28th, 2019. This is to facilitate time for community members to build aircraft well in-advance of the 2019 Flite Fest events. Community members are welcome and encouraged to keep building after this, but we have to cut off the scoring at some point.
  • Registration to participate in the group challenges at a particular Flite Fest Event (Ohio, Texas, Cali, etc) will open when that Flite Fest event is announced, and remain open until the event occurs.
  • Design review and scoring will be completed and results posted by March 31st 2019.
  • It is recommended that designers not review the rubric during the course of their project. To foster creativity and fun, review the rubric at the start, make your plan, build, and then review when nearing completion to see where you may accumulate additional points. The scoring rubric is posted below in the "spoiler" tag.
To be scored an entry must meet these 3 criteria on or before midnight February 28th, 2019:​

  • Flight video posted
  • Plans posted
  • Build instructions posted

Part 2 - Group Demonstration Events:

At each 2018 Flite Fest event where sufficient participants gather, several group activities will be coordinated to demonstrate airworthiness, awesomeness, craftsmanship, and team camaraderie. A community volunteer coordinator will need to be identified for each event to ensure we can pull these group challenges together.

The Briefing: A coordinated static presentation of all participating models at the flight line for community show-and-tell. We've done this in the build tent, and on the flight line - and the flight line was much more accessible to a wider spectator and pilot audience.

The Timed Flight: A coordinated flight will occur with all participating models to flood the skies with all models, operating at the edge of their speed envelope. Aircraft will take off as simultaneously as is safe and feasible, and land following a 5 minute flight. Randomly assigned spotters for each aircraft will time the flight from takeoff to landing, and closest time to exactly 5 minutes wins.

The Spot Landing: Closest landing (when the aircraft comes to a full stop) to a marker (balloon or streamer) taped on the runway wins. If performing a lawn dart or figure 9 maneuver to finish close to the target, the largest single piece of the aircraft remains will be used for landing distance measurement. :oops:

  • All models participating in these events should be built using designs meeting the Design-off guidelines.
  • Designs do not need to be completed in time for the Part 1 challenge scoring to participate in the Part 2 events.
  • The participant does not need to be the designer - please build other people's awesome designs and bring them to Flite Fest!
  • Registration for the in-person events at Flite Fest (Ohio/Texas/wherever) will be via posting in a specific thread created for those events, when the dates of those events are announced.

Design-off Scoring Rubric: 170 points total
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Skill Collector
Here are the fourty official challenge entries to date!!

Please join in the challenge yourself, and then go follow their build threads, ask lots of questions, and cheer them on too! :D

ADF-01 Falken
Build Thread Link

Swordfish II
Build Thread Link

Lockheed N+2
Build Thread Link

Macross Plus YF-21
Build Thread Link

AirHogs Intruder
Build Thread Link

Columbus Jets Baseball Logo Plane
Build Thread Link

Stubby MiG
Build Thread Link

WW1 Snoopy flying ace
Build Thread Link

Terminator Hunter Killer
Build Thread Link

Tron Legacy One-Man Light Jet
Build Thread Link

Hugh's MkIII Devastator
Build Thread Link

Jackyl YF-23
Build Thread Link

Wing Commander Hornet
Build Thread Link

X-Wing Fighter
Build Thread Link

HYDRA Valkyrie
Build Thread Link

Build Thread Link

Ushakov LPL Flying Submarine
Build Thread Link

VF-9 Robotech Veritech Fighter
Build Thread Link

Logan X-stream 6 - Foam Catapult Plane
Build Thread Link

Star Fox Experimental 1 (SFX1)
Build Thread Link

Crimson Skies Heavens Spade Carrier
Build Thread Link

Colonial Viper mkII
Build Thread Link

VF-1 Valkyrie
Build Thread Link

Blohm & Voss BV P.170
Build Thread Link

@jpot1 & @Michael763
Hughes Lockheed Firebrand from Crimson Skies
Build Thread Link

Lockheed X-44 Manta
Build Thread Link

Crimson Skies Devil's Dozen Mosquito
Build Thread Link

Tailspin Don Karnage Triplane
Build Thread Link

Build Thread Link

Boeing SUGAR
Build Thread Link

Stipa Caproni
Build Link Thread

F-49A Patriot
Build Thread Link

Quinjet from The Avengers/Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Build thread

Gee Bee R3
Build Thread Link

Naboo Star Skiff
Build Thread Link

Heaven's Spade Sparrow - Crimson skies inspired.
Build Thread Link

Warhammer 40k Thunderbolt
Build Thread Link

MiG-37B Ferret
Build Thread Link

F-19 Aurora
Build Thread Link

Heaven's Spade - Dragster
Build Thread Link
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Active member
If anyone's looking for a bit of inspiration from reality thats wild as fiction, i got some for you.

So as some may know, the Boeing 747 originally competed with the C-5 galaxy as a transport aircraft. What most aren't aware of was the fact that the boeing 747 was still being considered for a military role after it lost. Know as the 747 AAC, or i'm assuming Airborne Aircraft Carrier, this was basically a plan to turn a 747 into a microfighter mothership, complete with a compliment of these bad boys

The Boeing 985 concept microfighter. There were a half dozen variants of this, but this is the one you see in all the drawings. Sleek, tiny, and way ahead of its time, with thrust vectoring capabilities (in the 70s!) flexible leading edges, and other advanced technologies. This little plane as an RC could be quite the rocket with a good EDF behind it, and the top deck leaves a lot of room for electronics. Work out the issue of possible rudder collisions on landing (foldable lower rudder perhaps, or just make out of plywood) and this could be a winner.


Well-known member
The Boeing 985 concept microfighter. There were a half dozen variants of this, but this is the one you see in all the drawings. Sleek, tiny, and way ahead of its time, with thrust vectoring capabilities (in the 70s!) flexible leading edges, and other advanced technologies. This little plane as an RC could be quite the rocket with a good EDF behind it, and the top deck leaves a lot of room for electronics. Work out the issue of possible rudder collisions on landing (foldable lower rudder perhaps, or just make out of plywood) and this could be a winner.
I really dig that micro fighter. That looks sweet. It looks like it might be a relatively simple build as well.
I am not sure what they were smoking when they came up with the mother ship though. That dog ain't gonna hunt.


Free Flight Indoorist
Guys, I just thought of an idea that could help development considerably for all of us. Yes, it's a shameless plug, but the goal is to further model design work in this community. I'm not trying to make money, just get these designs jump started for these challenges.

Several folks (among them Nerdnic, Mid7night, and of course me) have developed profile scale catapult launched versions of their EDFs, prop planes, etc, to evaluate stability. So here's the deal: not all of you have laser cutters, and not all of you have experience with free flight stuff. I have both, and I'm willing to open up J&H Aerospace's capabilities for your testing programs.

Here's what I'd need in order to test someone's particular design:
-Separate files for parts from each wood size (yes, we're using balsa wood), so, say, a dxf for the 1/8" balsa fuselage, another for the 3/32" balsa wings, and a third for the 1/16" balsa tails. I'll supply catapult hooks.
-All files have to fit inside a 12"x4" footprint for wood size and cutting area restrictions. This may mean you need to break up the fuselage into a couple pieces with a scarf joint to join them (don't use a butt join, it's fragile, and sheeting reinforcements on the sides has proved unnecessary on the models I'm selling).
-Incorporate a dihedral gage; I can help you with the recommended dihedral settings and any upscaling of the tail surfaces.
-As already alluded to, files need to be in dxf format. If you're using Sketchup, though, save your files in v8 or prior format and I can go in and do the extraction myself.

I can't do this for free since I'll be doing it with my equipment and balsa supplies. You'll get a high quality product and the ability to proceed toward an actual product should you decide that your design is successful enough to warrant that. These models really do come out quite nicely, are extremely easy to produce and build, and people love them. Just look at the popularity of FT's profile chuck gliders.

If you're unfamiliar with the level of performance we're talking about, here's a taste:

What my profile scale catapult glider kits look like:

A finished model:

And the current state of my own fantasy challenge catapult glider:
2018-08-01 14_19_21-Aleda_CLG.skp - SketchUp Make 2016.png


Active member
I really dig that micro fighter. That looks sweet. It looks like it might be a relatively simple build as well.
I am not sure what they were smoking when they came up with the mother ship though. That dog ain't gonna hunt.
They were smoking that green stuff...you know, taxpayer money. Concept looks good on paper, take an existing plane and turn it into a flying aircraft carrier with onboard fuel and ordinance stores. Take an existing product, modify it a bit, outfit with this tiny fighter that doesn't need niceities like landing gear, redundant engines, complex hardpoint arrangements (theres only 2 and 2 30mm cannons) and sell it. In reality, the fighters are cool but the big bird would be a sitting duck, especially since those microfighters clearly lack a radar or non-infrared missiles. Also probably not a great idea to make a military product that is difficult to distinguish from a civilian aircraft.


4s mini mustang
So I have a conundrum... I found the perfect design for an aircraft that I can build for the competition, but I can’t start designing until I finish my Red Bull air race entry. So the question is, should I register before somebody else takes this design (trust me, this design is very popular), or should I just wait and hope that nobody takes it?
Please tell me if you know what I should do. (Yes, I REALLY want this design.)