DRAFT 2019 Fantasy Aircraft Design & Build Challenge Guidelines


Skill Collector
I'm taking on the role again as volunteer coordinator for what will be an excellent community organized 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.

This post with the draft 2019 guidelines will remain open for additional comment and feedback through August 1st, 2018 when the final guidelines will be posted in a new thread.

Please share the link to this thread (and the subsequent final guidelines thread) to everywhere you know Flite Test fans might see it. We want as many community members aware and participating as possible! :D

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.

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

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. Teams are encouraged! Beta builders, design testers, drafting parters, etc. are all awesome! Multiple flight crew members to operate bomb drops, camera surveillance, turret functions, etc. are really awesome too!

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, text 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 the main challenge thread (which will be started August 1st, 2018), 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:

    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]

    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 will be attached to this thread.

  • 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 2019 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.

  • 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

1. Selection of source material images: 10
a. Depicts multiple views of the aircraft: 5​
b. Detail quality: 5​

2. Aerodynamic design: 20
a. Wing design - airfoil, incidence, washout: 5​
b. Center of Gravity identified: 5​
c. Wing loading and thrust to weight calculations: 5​
d. Other replicated aerodynamic design components: 5​

3. Materials: 40
a. Structural materials & techniques pushing beyond FT standards: 5​
b. Durability of structural design: 5​
c. Resourcefulness: 5​
d. Thriftiness: 5​
e. Covering / finishing material selection: 5​
f. Prefabricated parts (higher score for less used): 5​
g. FT Power Pack motor compatible (full points for EDF/Glider exception): 10​

4. "Scale" features: 25
a. Closeness of design silhouette to selected source material: 5​
b. Overall graphical treatment: 5​
c. Engine or power apparatus appearance (dummy, cowl, vents, exhaust, etc.): 5​
d. "Scale" landing apparatus: 5​
e. Other inspirational features (such as lighting, sound, bomb drops, etc): 5​

5. Flight (not based on pilot skill): 20
a. Take off: 5​
b. Stability: 5​
c. Maneuverability: 5​
d. Landing: 5​

6. Basic rules: 55
a. Subject meets "fantasy aircraft depicted as capable of carrying a person but never built and flown at full scale" requirement: 25​
b. Quality of plans (full size and tiled for full score): 15​
c. Quality of build instructions: 15​
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Drinker of coffee, Maker of things
Heres a multipanel CG calculator. Really helps with crazy shapes

As an example heres a crazy shape i just made up to show you how you could work up the cg for a made up shape:


WWII fanatic
I've already found some really cool aircraft.

an X-20

an X-36 (I don't know if this will be allowed seeing how it flew, but only a 28% version to perform tests, it was never built to full scale)

and General Grievous ship from star wars


Elite member
This challenge has me like a kid in a candy store. I could spend two lifetimes building aircraft for this challenge.:)
General Grievous' ship would be a cool one.(y)

If looking for real aircraft, look at the HiMAT. Technically it has flown as well, but only the basic model. It had a number of specialized variations that were never built.

I already have mine picked out though. I am chomping at the bit to get started.:cool:


Skill Collector
Rule 7. Already started builds may be entered. :D

I don't anticipate as many modifications to the rules as we had in last years challenge (learned a few things, we did), so you should be on stable ground to start designing :D


Active member
Looking forward to this!

I considered the Tie Advanced as an EDF
tie advanced.jpg
The Thundercats Feliner
And the Tron Light Jet
I actually bought diecast models of the Tie Fighter and Light Jet and stared at them for a while trying to figure out how to do them.
The light jet is my favorite and resembles a plane that I have mostly built based on a dream I had a couple of years ago, but I can't figure out how it wouldn't be impossibly tail heavy.

But then I went to a Columbus Clippers game and saw the logo of the older (and still around as a farm team I think) Columbus Jets and settled on that:

It has some, but less, design challenges and fits better with the long list of other planes I intend to build "this year". I now live in three years: calendar, academic, and "FliteFest to FliteFest". It is currently the 9th day of the first month of the new year. :)


Active member
Looks awesome. I am relatively new to the forum and trying to be more active. You have likley seen some of my many question. I am 14. And got start flying models about a year ago. I fly when ever I can and the wind is not to crazy. I think I will try to participate in this challenge. How ever I just got into the hobby and I like building it just getting to be a strong builder and designer takes time. I have built the tri plane I forgot the name the duster and the guinea pig. I would really like to try and make something however I would have no idea on how to get started. First I would choice a plane. I have no idea what plane I would choice. After I choice a plane how would I figure out what shapes I need to cut out of the foam board? And how would I go about making plans? I would have plenty of time to work detail out, but I really like the idea of this challenge and can't wait to see what people come up with.


Elite member
Looking forward to this!

And the Tron Light Jet
View attachment 111109
I actually bought diecast models of the Tie Fighter and Light Jet and stared at them for a while trying to figure out how to do them.
The light jet is my favorite and resembles a plane that I have mostly built based on a dream I had a couple of years ago, but I can't figure out how it wouldn't be impossibly tail heavy.

+1 on the Tron one man light jet. I have a rough model in sketchup that I haven't finished. You could extend the pylons that support the wing forward and load 'em up with batteries ;)

LJ Gif.gif



Active member
.@damorc Looking good! I had that same thought. But to get those tubes large enough diameter for most 3S batteries, the scale gets big. I had hoped to be in range that a 10-12" toy character could be the pilot.


This has got me thinking of all the RoboTech Planes and Vultron again! Or even try to bring back some of the flying cars that never made it to the sky's!


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