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Chickadee Model Plane Plans

The Chickadee is an easy to build and gentle electric flyer

Chickadee RC plane plans

Chickadee 3 channel electric model plane

The Chickadee is an easy to build and easy to fly three channel radio controlled electric powered model built from plans available here. Using common building materials of balsa and plywood, clearly shown on the computer aided design (CAD) plans, the Chickadee builds quickly into a gentle, slow flying and easy to see radio control model airplane with a 44” wingspan.


The Chickadee construction article and plans were included in the September 2009 Quiet and Electric Flight International magazine - see below:

Chickadee magazine cover

Chickadee included in Sept 2009 Q&EFI magazine

Chickadee construction article

Opening page of Chickadee article
















Chickadee fuselage side view

Chickadee CAD fuselage side view - download PDF version here


Chickadee rear view

Chickadee top rear view


Wing area

The Chickadee’s large wing area and high lift shape based on the Clark Y airfoil, combined with generous tail moments, lead to pleasing flight characteristics. Order a set of Blackburn plans and the Chickadee plans are included for free. The Chickadee’s simple construction and clear, CAD drawn plans will get you flying in a few days. Experiment with using foam in combination with balsa, as Evert did with his build of the Blackburn.

And if you like the Chickadee, do try the Snapper. A set of free Snapper plans can be found here.




Video below shows the Chickadee in flight. The Chickadee is very easy to build, and as you can see flies just great. You'll have full control during all phases of flight. Touch and goes are all part of the fun!

Video of the Chickadee in flight


Chickadee in flight

Close up of Chickadee in flight

A bill of materials is on page 3 of this build log. The Chickadee plans list all the dimensions and sizes of the various parts that make up the aircraft. The Chickadee’s construction is primarily balsa and plywood, with the exception of the 3/32” bamboo skewer used for the tail skid. These “appetizer skewers” are available at your local grocery store.





Chickadee wing tubes

Metal wing mount tubes

Wing mounting scheme

The Chickadee’s wing leading and trailing edges friction fit into ¼” diameter metal tubes mounted on the fuselage which makes for easy assembly at your local flying site. The prototype Chickadee came out at a total flight weight of 9.5 ounces with NiMH batteries, and would be less with lipo batteries. Do keep in mind the need to properly balance the aircraft at the center of gravity.



Chickadee wing

Chickadee wing construction


The Chickadee’s wings are straight forward in their design and construction. Note that there are no internal spars for the Chickadee’s wings. Rather, the ¼” balsa wood dowels that form the leading and trailing edge of the wing are the structural wing spars for the Chickadee. The wing ribs, cut out from 1/8” balsa, combined with the ¼” balsa dowel leading and trailing edges provide light weight and strength for the Chickadee’s wings.


Wing dowel ply inserts

Wing 1/4" balsa dowel and ply insert

Balsa dowels

I made the round ¼” balsa dowels from ¼” square balsa, sanding the ¼” square stick to a rounded shape. Ensure this ¼” square balsa is a reasonably hard grade of balsa to provide the necessary strength for the wings. The ends of each wing’s ¼” balsa leading and trailing edge dowel closest to the fuselage need to be reinforced with a ¼” by 8” piece of 1/16” plywood. You will need four of these plywood reinforcements. Cut out an 8” slot in the ¼” balsa dowels and glue in the four ply reinforcements. Do not skip this important step or the wings will simply snap at the metal tube insertion points when under flight loads.


Chickadee wing ribs

Wing ribs cut from 1/8" balsa sheet

The 1/8” balsa wing ribs need to be cut out next. Use at least a medium grade of balsa for the wing ribs. Make a rib template and use this to draw on the 1/8” balsa sheet the top and bottom outline of the 18 W-1 wing ribs. All wing ribs are identical. I cut each end of the wing ribs slightly long and trimmed the rib to fit when the ribs were glued to the wing’s leading and trailing edges. There is no need to “bend” balsa to the shape of the wing rib. Cutting the wing rib directly from the 1/8” balsa sheet works just fine.


Chickadee wing underside

Underside of wing showing structure

Cover the full size wing with clear plastic wrap to prevent gluing the wood parts to the paper plan. Pin the ¼” balsa dowel leading and trailing edges directly over the plans. Ensure the ends of the wing’s leading and trailing edges with the 1/16” plywood inserts are at the location where the wing will fit into the fuselage’s metal wing tubes. Trim the 18 W-1 ribs to snugly fit onto the wing’s round leading and trailing edges and glue into place. Glue the wing’s 1/8” balsa corner reinforcements as shown on the plans and glue the two 1/8” square balsa span braces in the outer panel of each wing. Remove each wing panel and sand smooth.

Author: Gordon McKay

Chickadee page 1 2 3 FREE Plans

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