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Balsa Build Series

Hello all, big fan of the show and all your content. However, I have a suggestion for show content that I'd like you to consider.

I completely understand the focus on foam board and BBQ skewer construction methods as it allows new hobbyist to get into the air cheaply and quickly, however for some of us, half of the fun comes from the build process. I must admit that sometimes it is a bit painful to watch planes come together with scotch tape and hot glue. To that end may I suggest a build series using Balsa Construction? With the availability of laser cutters, 3D printers and carbon fiber I believe the Balsa and Ply aircraft is due for a revival. Again I am a big fan of all the work you do to put together the show but I feel that craftsmanship and attention to detail are two areas that deserve a bit of the limelight. Balsa building (I believe) is a way to showcase both these skills.

Sure a crash in a Balsa aircraft will be much more catastrophic but that not only gives the hobbyist a chance to learn about repairing but also provides an opportunity to learn about building more robust designs that may or may not fair better in crashes.

With the FT laser cutter, perhaps you could put together a series of parts which customers could purchase to mix and match to create their own designs. For example, a Clark Y airfoil rib in 12, 20 and 25 cm chord lengths with 5, 10, and 16 mm spar cutouts for carbon fiber tubes. Buy as many as you like to make a wingspan as long as you like. Maybe even sell some fancy Flite Test Monokote.

Again, just a suggestion for those of us who enjoy a night in the garage of sanding, epoxying, test fitting, sanding, cutting, monokote-ing and more sanding just as much as a day of flying. I'm sure you can find room in your show schedule to accommodate us hobbyist engineers without sacrificing the cheap and easy methods for the hobbyist flyers.

Thanks for all the content.


Josh had mentioned doing a balsa build a month or two ago. I know he enjoys balsa but constantly gets side tracked with other things. There just doesn't seem to be enough time. Maybe leave a podcast message and give them a nudge 'cause I'd be surprised if they got the message here.


Hostage Taker of Quads
Staff member
I got a chance to chat with Josh about this in mid-January, and while he's still very much pleased with the Rapid-prototype capability that foamboard brings, he still likes Balsa as a material too (BTW, he brought this up, not me!). He used to build balsa almost exclusively, and in the larger scales, but moved down in scale and to cheaper materials as his family grew, more for safety than anything else -- Giant scale gas engines can be crazy dangerous. I gathered his opinion wasn't that any one was universally better, merely different, but each have their strengths. IMO, I agree with that assessment.

At the time, the schedule was focused primarily on the mild store expansion (which has been in progress in the last few weeks) and getting FT connections up and running (which is mostly behind scene ATM, but I'd expect a new plane in a month or two designed to support that), and after that . . . well distractions may push in different directions. For the construction, he was actually talking less like laser cut kits (can be profitable, but takes GOBS of time, which eats at any margin), and more plans with stickbuild from beam and trestle construction. A bit more old-school scratch build approach, but still something easy to turn a pile of sticks into an airframe with nothing more than a plan, knife and glue . . . and patience.

It's coming, but just like building with the stuff, you'll need to use a bit of that patience ;)