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Inside Info on Model Airplane Plan Publication

Page 1 of 2 - Case studies on publishing your model airplane plans

Model plane plan publication information page 1 2

Publish your model airplane plan!

Once you have completed your design of an RC model airplane the next step is getting your new plan published in a model magazine.

The model aviation press is always looking for original RC aircraft plans to publish. With the widespread use of factory built park flyer RC airplanes as well as ARFs there are not as many published model airplane plans as before.

As late as the mid 1990s model airplane magazines such as Model Aviation or RC Modeler would have up to three construction articles per issue. In spite of numerous ready to fly model planes, there are still many modelers who like to build airplanes from scratch. Publishing your new and original plan in a magazine is a great way to participate in the hobby. Following are some personal experiences regarding the publication of five of my RC model airplane plans.

Buhl Pup airplane

The Buhl Pup inspired the Yankee Mike

Yankee Mike

The Yankee Mike was my first model airplane design. I used the Buhl Pup as an inspiration for the overall plan layout. The Buhl Pup had a shoulder mounted wing that I knew would be easy to mount on a flat top fuselage structure I envisioned for the Yankee Mike.

The wing is constant chord, so just a single wing rib needed to be drawn. The landing gear strut arrangement had character and would provide a very strong assembly.

Saito had just come out with a 0.30 cubic inch four cycle motor, and I sized the Yankee Mike for this wonderful little gas engine.

Yankee Mike RC model airplane

Yankee Mike rear view

I hand drew the entire Yankee Mike plan with rulers, pencils and french curves. I used four sheets of paper for the complete set of plans. Everything had to be measured and marked off, and all the parts (wing, tail, etc.) had to fit properly on the fuselage drawing.

In 1997 I mailed the complete Yankee Mike plans package to Jim Pearson, the technical editor of RC Modeler magazine. This submission included a construction article and a set of paper photo prints.

Jim got right back to me and accepted the plan for publication. Of course there was no internet, digital pictures or e-mail to facilitate communication back then.

Jim had my plans traced over by a professional draftsman. I had to review the full size plan for errors – marked in red pencil – before RCM inked the final version. The Yankee Mike construction article was published in the July 1998 issue of RC Modeler magazine.


Yankee Mike model airplane plan

Yankee Mike plan - July 1998 RCM magazine

A large part of RCM’s income was from the sale of model airplane plans from their extensive library. This was before the ability of anyone to easily copy and enlarge a smaller version of the plan from the magazine to full size for model construction.

The finished Yankee Mike plan came out very well. The plan provided all the part and dimension information needed to build your own version of this sport flyer.

Yankee Mike RCM cover page

RCM cover page of Yankee Mike construction article






The key point is that I provided Jim everything he needed to publish the plan – I did not create any work for him. Jim was satisfied with my efforts on the Yankee Mike design, and readily accepted my second model airplane plan, the Electro Aviator, for publication.

Sadly, RCM went out of business before the Electro Aviator could be published. I think everyone was shocked at the sudden demise of RCM. It was the leading RC model airplane magazine for many years in the United States.

Electro Aviator

Electro Aviator RC model airplane

Electro Aviator front view

My next model airplane plan publication was the Electro Aviator, which came out in the March 2007 issue of Quiet and Electric Flight International magazine.

After the 1998 publication of the Yankee Mike I took the time to learn computer aided design (CAD) drafting programs. The capabilities of these early CAD airplane design software programs were directly related to the power of the personal computer used.

The various CAD programs shared the basic capabilities of drawing lines, circles, grids, snaps and so on that could be applied to follow on CAD programs. As personal computers became more powerful, the CAD programs quickly became the standard method to draft RC model airplane plans.

Electro Aviator RC model airplane

Electro Aviator prototype

I eventually learned, after much study, how to use TurboCAD to draw a model airplane plan. Please note you can save yourself about a year’s worth of work learning TurboCAD by ordering my video instruction CDs here.

The Electro Aviator was my first CAD prepared model airplane plan for publication, and it came out very well. The Electro Aviator is a simple, low wing design. I used a constant chord wing, and designed the ailerons to show a form of wing taper.

Note also that I copied the distinctive fin and rudder design from the F-4 Phantom for the Electro Aviator’s vertical tail. Including inspiration from other historical aircraft into your model airplane design is one of the fun aspects of drafting your own RC model airplane plans.



Electro Aviator RC plane plan

Electro Aviator plan was drawn with TurboCAD

Via the internet, I found a company who could take an e-mail copy of my TurboCAD plan file and laser cut a set of balsa parts for the Electro Aviator. The laser cut parts came out perfectly, and made the model very easy to construct.

I also reached out via e-mail to Mike Nott, the affable editor of Quiet and Electric Flight International magazine at the time, for publication of the Electro Aviator. Mike readily agreed, and the result is shown here. Q&EFI included a full sized pull-out of the Electro Aviator plan in their March 2007 issue, adapted directly from my original TurboCAD plan.

Author: Gordon McKay

Model airplane publication information page 1 2

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