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Publish Your Model Airplane Plan

Learn how to get your model airplane plans in a magazine!

It is great fun, and a source of personal satisfaction, to have a published model airplane plan of your original RC model airplane design.

I have had the good fortune of getting five of my model airplane designs published. I’d like to offer some lessons learned to assist you with getting one of your own designs published. It is a lot easier than you think.

Chickadee sketch

The Chickadee started with this pencil sketch

To start, you will need to learn how to sketch out on paper a rough initial airplane outline and then draw a set of model airplane construction plans from this concept drawing.

I recommend that you learn how to draw model airplane plans with a computer CAD program. TurboCAD works just great for me. The key for a successful published model airplane plan is to start with simple, basic aircraft designs before you branch out into more complicated projects.

Once the construction plans are complete you need to write up a complete model build article and take a series of digital pictures of your model airplane design being assembled, and of course in flight.

Chickadee CAD outline

From Chickadee pencil sketch to CAD outline

Make a YouTube video

As part of your marketing effort with the model aviation magazine staff, I recommend making a YouTube video so the editors of the various magazines can easily see your model in flight.

All my model airplane videos are done at practically no cost. I use a simple Canon PowerShot digital camera for the video, and edit the video and photos with Widows Movie Maker (included free with your computer).

Uploading your finished movie to YouTube does not cost a cent, and a link to the YouTube video can be included for the editor to view your original design in flight. I think my final model videos come out rather nice.

From an internet search, or looking at whatever model airplane magazines you may have, get an e-mail address for the editor. Send them a short note introducing yourself and explaining that you have an original model airplane design, and would like to submit this for a published model airplane plan.

Let the editor know that everything is done on this project. Plans are complete, the construction article and bill of materials is written, and pictures are taken. You will get some rejections for sure, but keep at it. Once you have your first model airplane plan accepted for publication, you have started a relationship with the editor. The editors are always on the lookout for model airplane plans to publish. Thus getting your next design in print will be that much easier.


Chickadee RC plane fuselage

From pencil sketch to CAD outline to final Chickadee TurboCAD plan

If you do not get an e-mail response from a magazine, I’d go ahead and print out your introductory cover letter, the construction article, a small printout of your CAD model airplane plan, and several pictures. Mail this package to the magazine’s editorial offices, as perhaps your original e-mail did not get received or was misfiled.

Be sure to include good contact information for yourself (e-mail and phone number) on all your letters, draft articles and plans. These model airplane magazine editors are extremely busy with small staffs and working on the next deadline. The idea always with getting your model airplane plan in print is to ensure you do all the work for the editor, and present him or her with a complete and finished product.

Yankee Mike RC airplane plan

Yankee Mike hand drafted plan - July 1998

Use CAD for drawing your plan

TurboCAD training CDs

TurboCAD training here!

This is all the more reason to be sure to offer a CAD version of your model airplane plan. Someone on the model airplane magazine staff will take your CAD design and make a few changes to fit into the print format that will be used by the magazine.

This is very easy to do with a computer. In the old days, as with my Yankee Mike design in the July 1998 RC Modeler magazine, a professional draftsman actually traced over my hand drawn plan for a final vellum copy used for the blueprint process. I actually had to review a draft of this finished design, with all errors noted in red pencil, before RCM went final with the final published plan.

RCM cover with Yankee Mike

1998 RC Modeler magazine with Yankee Mike plan



In the distant past (before 2000 or so), the model airplane magazines had vast catalogues of published plans for sale that allowed the RC modeler to build any number of interesting and high quality model aircraft.

With the proliferation of ARFs these days, less people are building their model airplanes from plans. But, as attendance at any model airplane show will attest, many very talented model airplane builders are still out there.

Most likely your published model airplane plan will be a pull-out version, included for free in the magazine. Quiet and Electric Flight International magazine, where four of my five model airplane plans have been published, uses this method to distribute their published plans. You can also purchase the full size plan from Q&EFI’s on-line store if you missed the one issued in the magazine.

Please click here for further detailed information on what I did to get my five own design RC model airplane plans published!

Author: Gordon McKay

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