You may remember at the August Fun-Fly I demonstrated the maneuvers for the pattern contest using a small model on a stick? What was it you ask? Well I don’t know if it has an official name but I call them “Stick Planes”. What’s a “Stick Plane”?

It’s simply a small 3D mockup of your favorite model with a wooden dowel glued to the tail for a handle. Use it to visualize how your model will look in the air while performing your aerobatic routines. I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of TOC pilots using them as they stand on the sidelines waiting to fly. “How do I get one of these?” you ask. Plan-A, buy one; I have seen them for sale at some area swap meets and in magazine adds. Can’t find the one you want? Can’t find any? Then it’s time for Plan-B, make your own.

The materials you will need are a ¼” wooden dowel 8 to 12 inches long and a sheet of 1/16” light plywood. I like to use 1/16" plywood because it’s easy to cut with a Xacto knife and a straight edge. But you can use any scrap plywood you have laying around. The thickness isn’t critical; you just want it thin enough so it’s easy to work with but not so thin that it flexes. The dowel diameter can be any size, though much over a 1/2-inch diameter just doesn’t look right to me.

Next you’ll need some “plans”; technically I guess they’re really templates. I’m going to date myself here. For my Stick Planes I use the “Two View” drawings from my Great Planes kits. Yes I built kits. For those who are much younger and don’t remember kits, the “Two View” drawing was the page in the Instruction Manual that you would copy and then color to work out your trim scheme. I have several of these “Two View” drawings as well as some I drew myself all in .BMP (Bit Map) format. If you would like a copy, drop me an Email and I’ll send them to you. My templates were saved as line drawings and total about 6 Meg. If I don’t have the plane you want, ask around. Someone might have just the one you’re looking for and send you a copy.

Using the template, from the top view you get the wing (wings for a biplane) and stabilizer, the side view gives you the fuselage. Either cut out the templates and trace the outlines on to the plywood or place the template sheet face down on the plywood and use your sealing iron to iron the image onto the plywood. Most printer inks are heat sensitive and this process should transfer the lines from the paper to the plywood.

Next, cut the parts from the plywood and then cut two slots in the fuselage profile, one for the wing and the other for the stabilizer. I’ve found that a “cut-off” wheel on a Dremel tool works great for this. Slide the wing and stabilizer into the slots in the fuselage, center and glue in place. Once the glue dries mount your plane on the wooden dowel. Cut a slot about ½” long, the thickness of the “stick plane” into one end of the dowel, (Another good job for the “cut-off’ wheel). Slip the tail into the slot and adjust it so that when you hold the dowel straight and level the “Stick Plane” is straight and level and when you rotate the dowel the model revolves around the same axis as the dowel. Once you’re satisfied glue the plane to the stick.

If you’re going to leave your “Stick Plane” in the natural wood finish you’re done although you might want to paint it with some type of clear finish just to keep it clean. Some folks simply paint it a solid color like white or black while others paint it to match their favorite model. I like this option best. Remember since it doesn’t fly, you don’t have to worry about using fuel proof paint. You can even cover it with your favorite covering material. I’ve both painted and covered mine.

So get yourself some plywood, glue and a few jars of your favorite model paints and go for it. I think you’ll find making one of these a pretty good way to beat a case of cabin fever. You might want to make one with your kids too. Or better yet, “kit” up a few and let your kids put them together and color them; it’ll keep them out of your hair while you build and it might be a great way to get them interested in your hobby.

Fly Smart, Fly Safe, Larry Dudkowski