• This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn more.

Go Big at Flite Fest

Go Big at Flite Fest

People love to build, fly, and watch really big planes fly at Flite Fest, but they can be difficult to transport, especially for people coming from far away. Fortunately, Flite Fest has a tradition of build tents which makes it possible to build them on site.

The challenge is to provide some reference designs. That way people can bring their radio gear, motors, batteries, etc, and build them with locally sourced materials.

They should be simple, cheap, disposable, known to fly well, and BIG. The primary building materials would be Styrofoam insulation from the local home improvement store, and foamboard. The simplest designs should take just a few hours build. Reference designs would include a list of parts so builders can easily bring what they need from home and buy the rest when they arrive. In many cases they would be built by teams, so the cost would be minimal.

These are “single use” aircraft, since the airframe is usually discarded at the end of the event. It is not overly expensive. A 4’x8’x1” sheet of Polystyrene is only about $11.00. It comes in different thicknesses ranging from 0.75” to 4”. Most aircraft can be built with just 1 or 2 sheets. So long as the FF organizers plan for the waste disposal it should not be a problem.

In general, these would not be heavy or fast aircraft, but large and very light weight. This helps to mitigate any safety concerns, but it also means that they might not handle a lot of wind.

They could often use existing FT Power Pack options like the Power Pack D (Standard Quadcopter). In some cases a single large motor is preferable and FT might create a special purpose power pack to be sold at FF. If some of the designs became popular at “home” then a larger power pack option might become a standard part of the FT store.

These would make excellent night flyers, so the FT store could offer ready to install LED kits which would probably be popular with the smaller planes as well.

The possible aircraft designs are nearly infinite, but the documented reference designs should be fairly simple. The goal is to keep the build time to less than a day. Advanced modelers will no doubt take the concept to an impressive extreme, but the reference designs should be achievable by intermediate builders. The reference designs should also detail the items that can most easily be made at home and brought to the event. This would include things like power harnesses, plywood joiners and firewalls, or generally anything that might be difficult to make on site. The result would be a relatively small kit of tools and parts that would be brought to the event to insure a speedy and functional build.

Aircraft ideas.

1. Enlarged versions of classic FT designs like the FT Flyer, Nutball, and Delta
2. 3D Fun Flyer
3. Flying Plank* – Basically a 4’x8’ piece of foam with 2 motors and elevons.
4. Plus Wing VTOL* – A simple cruciform tail sitter VTOL that is also an airplane
5. Ring Wing VTOL* – A simple quad that is also an airplane

*Some of these designs such as the VTOL aircraft require a flight controller (FC). Others may benefit from a FC even if they are not VTOLs.

It’s too late for 2017 but we have an entire year to publish some designs for 2018.

Let me illustrate the point with a couple of examples:

The VTOL Ring Wing

The Flying Barn Door

Last edited:


Love the THREAD Ran D.!! I hope this thread continues to grow and we here at FT ALWAYS LOVE seeing peoples creative mindsets and the stories behind them!

Blessings and CANT WAIT to catch up with you again at the next FLITE FEST( whether east or west! ha)



Troll Spammer
<sigh> still debating weather I should ask for a Kitchen pass for FF East. Falls on the weekend of my wedding anniversary again this year.... would love to make a flying hulahoop..... LOL :D

I have started to pull together parts for an 8 ft. span tail sitter VTOL. It sounds complicated but physically it's not.

It will take a little time to design, build test, document, and then make a build video, but not that long. I am hoping some others will be inspired to add their designs to the mix.


Looking forward to seeing it RAN D.! Are you planning on joining us for FF EAST this year? or is it to much of a trip? ;) Just figured I would check in with ya!

Thanks for all you do and keep inspiring other my friend... you go a GREAT job at it!

Litterrbug - Gonna be great having you there... dont forget though.. def get your wife something nice for allowing you to go! ;) ha Happy wife happy life right?! Can't wait to see ya there!



Troll Spammer
Litterrbug - Gonna be great having you there... dont forget though.. def get your wife something nice for allowing you to go! ;) ha Happy wife happy life right?! Can't wait to see ya there!

My wife doesn't work like that... wink wink ;)


12 foot B-17

I was planning to build a simple plane to illustrate the concept but it occurs to me that people want something more impressive. The challenge then is to make it fast and easy to build. Oh, and it has to be cheap and fly well too...

I suppose I can turn this into a build thread.

I sketched up a design yesterday and bought the major materials, 2 sheets of 4'x8'x1" Styrofoam insulation, and about 20' of 1.125" x 1/4" clear pine, all from the local home improvement store. It cost about $45 total.

I already ordered a Flite Test Power Pack D for quads, and some tough tilt servos. They aren't cheap, but all of that gear will be reusable.

I figure it will weigh about 6 pounds, which will give it a thust to weight ratio of almost 1:1. It should be reasonably aerobatic although the roll rate will probably be fairly modest. Depending on how many batteries I have to put in the nose to make it balance, it will probably fly for 15 minutes or more. Except for not liking wind, it should be easy to fly, and with the optional addition of a flight controller it could be totally easy to fly. These super light planes tend to avoid all the scary problems that happen to the heavy ones.

Since this is a more elaborate build I plan to explore making it transportable by breaking it down into pieces that can be compactly stored, and then assembled on site. That way, builders will have the option to complete all or part of the build at home and then finish it up at FliteFest. This also allows for the option of some simple paint schemes to enhance the illusion.

This is as much about illustrating techniques as it is about this specific plane. Styrofoam insulation or "Bead Board" as it is sometimes called, is a viable building material just like foam board and for reasonable size airplanes not at all expensive. They can be brittle though, so the solution is not to crash. In other words, this is not a beginner build.


Steady progress is being made. The right wing is complete, the left wing should be done tonight. Both halves of the horizontal stab are done including the elevator and hinges. The vertical stabalizer is done with no rudder because the design doesn't need it.

My Flite Test order arrived with the Power Pack D for a quad, and 4 Tough Tilt servos. I picked up some extra long JR servo arms to match as well as the threaded control rods.

I decided to slice off the ball turret and then mount it with Velcro. With no landing gear it will probably come off on landing anyway. I also forgot the top turret which will be made and attached with velcro. I might add drinking straws for gun barrels later.

I still need to make the 4 motor pods. Final assembly should be complete this weekend. As a matter of fact, it might be complete before the weekend ends.

It will all come apart for transport. The two wing halves, the two horizontal stabilizer halves, and even the vertical stabilizer are removable. I will mount the motor pods on the wings permanently as it is most convenient in my situation, but nothing is really permanent when a plane is made of foam and tape.

I am thinking it will probably end up tail heavy as the spar for the horizontal stabilizer is heavier than it needs to be. I will just add more batteries in parallel on the nose until it balances. That may take it over my goal of 6 pounds but it will also give it a flight duration of 20 minutes or more.

I think I have all the parts, with the possible exception of wire for the power wiring and servo extensions. I hope I have enough 3MM bullet connectors.

I will wait until after it flies to decide if I want to bother with paint. Paint really wasn't part of the original design goal and it adds a lot of weight but it also helps with the cool factor.
The build is basically complete. All the major parts are made, and I am starting to install the radio gear. Final assembly comes next, but the real final assembly will have to be done at the flying field because it can't be fully assembled in my house. It doesn't fit. Here are some pictures of my progress.


I was wrong. There is a room in my house big enough to hold it, on a diagonal...

It's 6.3 pounds so far with no motors, batteries, or power wiring, and the CG is currently at the trailing edge. Fortunately, everything aft of the CG is already in place except for the servo extension cables. I am guessing that it will need 4 each 3.3Ah batteries in the nose to balance. I will wire the power harness accordingly. I would guess it will be closer to 9 pounds now. With about 6 pounds of static thrust from all 4 motors combined performance is now looking rather docile.