Did you ever wonder what happened to some of the models from some of our earlier posts? Here is the low-down on some of those designs that didn’t quite make the grade…

Why are some models non-flyers?

Sometimes models just never make it into the air. It’s a fact of life that we all have to accept and it can be frustrating, especially when it seemed like such a good idea at the start of the project. Most of the time these are the fast builds, the off-the-cuff designs, or the wacky models. Other times however a major project can fail at the very end and it is these that hurt the most. Of course, the most important thing is that we continue to learn from our mistakes and go on to make better flying models as a result.

Top reasons for a project to fail are:

  1. Poor or untested designs that just aren’t airworthy
  2. Incorrect selection of building materials that result in a heavy or weak airframe
  3. Poor gear selection that results in a failure to perform in the air – usually a motor/ESC mistake
  4. Boredom/frustration – designs that just don’t hold enough interest to see it through to the end

So here is the list of some of those early failures and the reasons why…

The Depron Dart

The Depron Dart project was supposed to prove that you could build a model glider in the shape of a classic paper dart, add servos and make it fly.

Depron Dart airframe

The main failure here was the I simply lost interest. At the time I was receiving all of my FPV gear and it was more interesting to start planning for that than hooking servos up to a paper airplane. The naked airframe is still sitting on top of a cupboard in the Red20RC workshop so maybe one day we will revisit this idea.

Foam Board DLG

The Foarm Board DLG project was going to be the first stage of a much larger project to explore the potential to build a functioning discuss launch glider from cheap materials.

Foam board DLG complete airframe

The first design looked great but this was a good example of poor design killing a project. I used a symmetrical KF Step airfoil as it was light, strong and had been used successfully in small powered models in the past (e.g. Bloody Mick’s Funbat). Unfortunately the KF Step is just not suitable for gliders and the very first launch demonstrated a terrible glide performance followed by a nose-crunching impact with the ground.

The model was broken up and the idea of a foam board DLG relegated to the back burner for the time being.

FT Versa Wing Slope Soarer

This one hurt a bit as Flite Test models shouldn’t fail, but fail it did. The idea was to build a Versa Wing suitable for slope flying.

I have to add here that this project did not fail because of a flaw in the design – the Versa Wing is awesome!

Versa Wing completed

This one actually flew off the bungee a few times but it was a non-flyer for a few reasons…

  1. I used the wrong foam board to build this model and it came out really quite heavy and only ever good for the slope.
  2. My access to slope sites is limited (we have them but I just don’t have the time/freedom to shoot off when the wind is right), so I lost interest eventually.
  3. I built a FT Simple Soarer that was much better for bungee launching!

I think I will return to this idea when time allows. The Versa Wing design is perfect for slope flying, I just need the time to explore it fully.

FPV Wing V1

This non-flyer really hurt as it actually flew well – it just suffered a number of catastrophic failures that eventually killed the design. Catch up with the full story here…

FPV Wing Completed

The design of the first FPV wing was great. It was a large, strong wing that really looked the part. So why did it all go wrong?

  1. The maiden flight nearly ended in disaster as poor workmanship in the build put the CG some 80mm aft of where it should have been, making the wing almost completely un-flyable.
  2. The second flight ended in disaster as poor gear selection left me with an ESC that caught fire a few minutes into the flight.

After the second flight I just couldn’t trust the airframe anymore and it was broken apart. The silver lining in this project however was that I took the lessons learned and created the FPV Wing V2 that has now proven to be a successful FPV model.

Flying Dinsosaur

I feel guilty about this one as the idea was to build a flying dinosaur at the request of my little girl.

Flying Dinosaur

Sadly, this one failed so completely that it never even got an article on Red20RC. I did a very quick search on Google and pulled the first page I found from the results. This was a post on RC Forums that contained an untested design for a flat sheet depron dinosaur. It looked okay so I scaled it up a bit, printed it out and built it in one evening from foam board.

Put simply, it didn’t fly. I just chucked it straight into the ground on the first attempt and cracked the “body”. This was a classic example of a poorly conceived, untested design that didn’t perform.

…and finally, an honorable mention…

I couldn’t go without mentioning the incident that actually became my first ever article on Flite Test.

Why alcohol and scratch building don’t mix…

In the days before I found a reliable source of foam board, the plan had been to build a micro Versa Wing from 3mm depron. Sadly after a few glasses of wine, I ended up with two perfectly formed left wings and no chance of a finished model.

Mini Versa Wing

Now for the guilty secret…

Since doing this I have actually repeated the mistake TWICE! First on the FPV Wing V1 and then again on the Foam Board UAV project. In both cases I spotted my mistake before the glue gun got hot. If I had finished these wings would only have been good for two identical models… or a biplane 🙂