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How long are your foam planes lasting?


Project Air on YouTube
Hey chaps,

I've recently been wondering about foam board and how it can be improved to last longer. I recently got to try some of the official Flite Test water resistant foam and was suprised to see that it wasn't as robust as the stuff I'd been using for years here in the UK. It was lighter though.

Just out of interest, how many flights do your scratch builds make before they have to be retired or rebuilt?

This is my record - around 30 flights on a FT Mini Scout built with UK foam board.
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Let me know of your experience!


Aviation Enthusiast
My oldest two planes are the Sportster (1 year old) and the Storch (a little over 1 year) and they both are still going strong. Both have suffered many crashes and lots of repairs. I would need to check my spreadsheet log for flight hours, but the Sportster has at least 30 flights or more so far, but it is getting towards the end of its life.
i have some planes who lasted for years!
granted.. i dont have much time to fly foamies anymore with my studys
but anyway if you place tape and dawl-rods in stratigic parts it can last the worst of crashes
and only gain the weight of some hot glue here and there
i have a spifire i flue streight for a year and more
and it still flies
a simple soarer hat the wing is from 4 years ago
the only part of that which you cant really count on is the nose and even that lasts very well


Aviation Enthusiast
36 flights on the Sportster
27 flights on Storch
59 flights on the Tiny Trainer and it is down with a broken wing, after hitting a tree, for now.


Active member
My FT Mustang was my 3rd build, about 3 years old, about 50+ flights and is still going strong. I have crashed it many times but only needed minor repairs. I did minwax and fully paint it tho, sealed up all exposed edges and hinges with hot glue as well. I even have a 3 axis gyro in it. Flies like butter. I've had some with less flights go in the trash but that's because they crashed, not wear and tear. Heck, if i put the motor back in my TT i bet it would fly just fine. 3 year old plane with 100+ flights on it. Decommissioned to use electronics elsewhere, couldn't throw away the body tho. I feel like they last WAY longer with a little minwax and paint and sealing all edges and hinges, otherwise i could see only getting 30 or so flights.


Maneuvering With Purpose
Really I think it will come down to how much you fly them and how well you land them. I don't fly as much as I'd like to but they seem to hold together pretty well. I think my Simple Soarer could hold up for a very long time on account of the slow landing speed. My most recent ones are covered in colored packing tape. Those seem to be fairly durable.
I've got a das little stick with over 200 flights, and I don't take it easy on her. She's the throw it in the car just in case plane, and is always the first plane I put up since she flies so well. Most of my foam board builds last a few months, depending on how much I fly. As I get better as a pilot, I find they last longer. I'm actually starting to have a few airframes waiting for electronics. But I can't seem to kill the planes those electronics are in!


Cardboard Boy
I think my most durable one had about 50 flights. My recent planes didn't last very long because they were prototype wings that flew an average of 3 flights before I killed them (which was fairly hard).
Im trying to make planes that last longer and my big 1.2m wing actually has over 20 flights but it is very strong and I plan to use it as a test bed to drop stuff and such. It even survived the only combat I ever did with a friend!

But mine are wire cut so I guess that doesn't really count
The only FT planes I've retired are the ones that crashed heavily enough to make them unrepairable. Although actually, that's not entirely true... I shelved the Storch simply because the white foamboard from which I built it started to warp and delaminate from simple exposure... but I never waterproofed it or anything, so that's no surprise. My waterproof planes are lasting really well. Interestingly, I still have the Old Fogey I learned on, several years ago. But it's on its second nose and third wing. ;-)



Project Air on YouTube
Thanks for all of the feedback! That's really interesting to hear.

I'm getting into balsa at the moment so I'll soon know how that holds up next to foam board. I've heard many stories of people owning balsa aircraft for 20 years+, although probably without much constant use. This plane of mine has been going strongly even after it crashed into a tree. Much of it's fuselage is curved card that has been waterproofed.

Experimental Airline's technique of using tape, as someone mentioned, seems to be a good way forward for non-scale looking planes. I completely agree with someone who mentioned minwax and taking your time to seal everything at the initial build process.

I wonder if in the future we'll see a foamboard type product with a thin plastic covering instead of paper?
I wonder if in the future we'll see a foamboard type product with a thin plastic covering instead of paper?
That might hard to cut and dull the razorblades but it's a neat idea. I also think someone here on the forum removed the paper and replaced it with 1/32 inch balsa, and I believe he had good results.


Old and Bold RC PILOT
My FB Planes last about 2 years, Flights 10 to about 300 depending on the model.

After 2 years I tend to give them away to those starting out with little funds!

For longevity I now seal the FB with Minwax, (some are later painted), and seal the FB edges with glue.

If I do not crash them they do not delaminate or otherwise deform and NOW it is often the case I am giving planes away that are as good as the day I first built them. (I do not use HOTMELT glue).

As for the Balsa and FB covered in iron on film! My Spitfire is still flying and performs as well as it ever has!
My Storch is entering its fourth year.

The maiden flight post is dated 3-25-2015. http://forum.flitetest.com/showthre...e-Storch-BUILD&p=185198&viewfull=1#post185198

This has been one of my two 'go to' planes since it first flew. It was the last plane I flew last season (on a very cold January 1st), and it will be the first plane I fly when I make it back out this season. I would estimate the number of flights in the _thousands_. It has been to two FliteFests, including the one where it flew in the world record attempt. It can be seen in a steep climb on the right hand edge of the official Guiness video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtnSk7WkQoY&t=22s

Even more impressive is my blue Spitfire. I posted about the maiden flight on 9-3-2014: http://forum.flitetest.com/showthread.php?4288-FT-Spitfire-Build&p=130469&viewfull=1#post130469

Which means that PA-944 is entering its FIFTH flying season. :applause:

It also has hundreds if not thousands of flights. It is still the plane I count on when the winds get excessive. I always try to get in a flight at club Fun Fly events, even if the wind has everyone else grounded. It's just not a 'Fun Fly' if nobody flies. :)

Foamboard planes can last a long time if you build them right, take care of them, and most importantly- don't crash them (too much). They will acquire their share of hangar rash and repairs from various incidents, and might start looking a bit beat up, but fly them with pride!! Mine still fly great and they have character!

Their patina of use and accumulated airtime makes the shiniest hangar queen look sad, honestly.

Besides... planes look best in the air, am I right?

Taken last summer. This is a four year old plane.
My longest lasting plane was an FT explorer, which really just needs to have the wings re-joined (folded up). That plane survived a few dozen flights over about 9 months. I had an FT trainer last me a few weeks until I got it stuck in a tree right before a rainstorm (non water resistant). I've also made 3 FT arrows, and I don't think I've flown an entire battery in any of those before destroying them. I'm not very good at controlling the arrows apparently lol.