FT CAD Gremlin
The History (2013 - 2022)
When I first got started in RC model aviation back in 2013, after building a few of the early Flite Test designs (Nutball, Flyer, Delta, and Bloody Wonder), I immediately had the urge to start modifying and designing. For some reason, I've always been drawn to some of the more oddball fictional RC airplanes like the Ugly Stick and the Wonder. The original Sig Wonder was designed by Bruce Tharpe and released in kit form by Sig in 1993. I decided that it would be a great plane to try and make out of foam board and built my first prototype in October 2013.
The first prototype was drawn and built by looking at pictures and information that I found on the web. The proportions were close, but not quite right. I oversized the control surfaces to be more in-line with the Flite Test style planes I was accustomed to and so that I could use the standard FT control horn. I was also dead set on trying to incorporate the Flite Test power pod into the design to make it swappable like the rest of the FT designs of the time.
She meet her fate a few days later in a nearly head on collision with an FT Bloody Wonder (a fitting fate). It was an epic collision...
In early 2014 I decided to revisit the design. I went back to the drawing board, made a few minor tweaks to the design, and built another prototype. This was also around the time I was working on the Bloody Wonder MkIII, the Ugly Wonder, and the Bloody Baron. For the life of me, I can't even remember how this one flew or what ever happened to it.
Then came the first ever Flite Fest in 2014. I was still very new to the hobby and had so much more to learn (still do). But, I knew that I had to go to Flite Fest. I jumped in on the Kick Starter and started preparing to go to my first RC event. I also knew that I wanted to bring a couple of my own designs to the event, and that the Wonder would be one of them (the other was the first prototype of the now famous FT Bloody Baron, but that's a whole other story). Funny side-note, when I first met Josh Bixler, I asked him to fly my Wonder prototype because it was the plane I had with me when I met him the first time. He flew it like a boss and said it flew like a Wonder, which I thought was the best possible compliment. Later on in the event he saw my prototype Bloody Baron and he asked me if Flite Test could kit it. He had never even flown the Baron yet!
Prototype #003 Flow by Josh Bixler at Flite Fest 2014
This version had a removable wing like the Sig balsa model. It was a pain to install/remove with the horizontal stabilizer butted up to the trailing edge of the wing. I never really liked the way it worked with the rubber bands, but I wanted to keep the build simple. With this, and some subsequent models, the only way to swap out the battery was to remove the wing. It was a pain.
In 2015 The FT Bloody Baron was finally released, and shortly after I began officially drafting the build plans for all the new Flite Test designs released since. I got busy with a lot of other projects and designs of my own. I occasionally went back and tinkered on the Wonder design in CAD trying to find that missing something that would make the design better. Needless to say, my interest in the design waxed and waned over the years. But during this time period, I had not built or flown another version of the Wonder. I did purchase a balsa Sig kit, complete with plans, instructions and decals, but I have yet to build that.
During the pandemic I had more free time on my hands and no where to go. So I decided to resurrect this project and built the latest version of the plans that I had been tinkering around with for years. The build was simple, and the plane flew great, but there was just something that was still off about the whole thing that I couldn't quite wrap my mind around. I knew for a fact I did not like the removable wing/rubber band attachment at all.
The urge to finish this project once-and-for-all hit hard. After tinkering with the design here and there, I finally decided to scrap everything and start over. And this time I had the original Bruce Tharpe/Sig plans to reference. I decided to ditch the FT power pod. I also incorporated a lot of newer features that have evolved over the past several years into the new design. I made up my mind to use a fixed wing (glued in place) and opted for a bottom access battery hatch/compartment. I also decided to try to make this foam board model as close to the original Wonder (control surface sizes, nose length, motor placement, airfoil shape, etc.) as possible. For me, those two design changes made all the difference in the world. Then I decided not only to do the Standard Wonder, but the 3 other original versions as well. I also couldn't resist making a German variant based off some pictures of modified Wonders I had seen on the internet way back when I first started this project. I built and flew several prototypes in 2021 including the new German variant.
By this time I had also recruited some friends to build and test the prototypes and provide feedback on the plans...
2021 Beta version Russian by @FlyingTyger
2021 Beta version Standard "Airborne Virus" by Andre
And even more prototypes built and flown by me.
I also had the novel idea of incorporating a feature from the Bloody Micks Funbat and FT Bloody Wonder into the Standard Wonder. A modified tail fin that would allow for vertical takeoff (VTO)!
After completing the FT Simple Scout XL in February, I decided it was finally time to finish up the wonder. There were a few small tweaks and changes that I wanted to add/modify and still two more versions that I hadn't built myself yet. The Angel and the Patriot. I decided to build the Angel and bring it to Flite Fest, painted up as close to the original as I could get with a rattle can and my vinyl cutter. I think it turned out pretty good.
Prototype #008, the Angel by SP0NZ
All that was left was to build the Patriot, which I decided to try to do 3 days before Independence Day. I finished it at 2 am on July 4, 2022. Wasn't able to fly it on the 4th due to rain, but the successful maiden took place on the 5th.
Final prototype #009, the Patriot by SP0NZ
Turns out it was a good idea to build the Patriot. Of the four designs, the tail fins on the Patriot were different enough that it required changing the mounting tab/slot locations on all the other designs to make them all consistent. And that was the final design change!
Andre and I at our local flying field.
2022 EAA AirVenture (July 28)
I had the opportunity to meet up with Josh Bixler and John Overstreet to hang out and do some RC flying at historic Pioneer Field during the air show in Oshkosh. Had a great time hanging out with everyone. And, to wrap up this 8+ year journey, Josh flew the final version of the Wonder, and had a blast doing it. Can't think of a more fitting way to wrap up this design.
Bix and SP0NZ with the Patriot Wonder at Pioneer Field, Oshkosh.
Angel (coming soon)