Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Trying to Add More Zip to Zip Wing Model Airplane

Original Zip Wing Airplane
For me some of the most fun I have with the model aviation hobby is trying to improve the performance of a model airplane. Often just minor tweaks are needed but other times a more radical approach is needed. In the blog post Zip Wing Electric Free Flight Plane I described trying to fly this electric free flight airplane available where toys are sold. Dry cell batteries power the electric motor and it has an electronic timer that shuts off the motor after a few seconds. Out the box the airplane lacks stability because the wing is so flat lacking dihedral. By bending the wings up I was able to improve the stability some but the flights never got very high and it came down fast.

Zip Wing Plane With Tissue Covered Wing

Large Wing and Tailboom Added

First attempt at improving the performance was just to add additional wing area to the wing by taping on foam material to the trailing edge of the wing.  If this worked it would be an easy fix anyone could do but it appeared to just make the airplane fly slower. From a previous flight one of the propeller blades had come off when it hit a curb, my epoxy fix did not hold.

Normally I do not give up easily and I remembered having a much larger tissue-covered balsa wing that worked well on some simple radio control airplanes. The wing was on a plane that my friend Floyd Richards had built for the Twin Turbo thrust vectoring radio we used on our early indoor RC airplanes. The plane flew well outdoors too when it was calm and I installed the RC to this plane from an Air Hog Aero Ace airplane. It flew amazingly well yet it was much heavier and larger than the Air Hog plane it came from.

Wing on RC Plane Flew Easily With the Power in Small Plane

My next thought was to put this wing on the Zip Wing plane hoping it would climb higher and glide longer. With the big wing attached the airplane looked really short so I extended the tailboom with a carbon rod, found a 3-bladed propeller to replace the broken one.

Foam Added to Wing from Plates

Test flights show the highly modified airplane flies different, much slower and the flight was more stable. With the electric motor that only runs maybe 10 seconds, it still doesn’t get very high. Competition free flight electric airplanes like the E36 have a high power to weight ratio and the airplane climbs very high in those few seconds.  My modified airplane lumbers along in a gradual climb which only gets it maybe 40 feet high.  

Lumbering Along

Still I do not feel like I wasted my time, it was fun and I have a great airplane to fly in a ball field.

Bill Kuhl

Related Blog Posts 


  1. I was looking for something like this…I found it quiet interesting, hopefully you will keep posting such blogs….

  2. Among all of them, some people use camera to take pictures of airplane building splendid moment, airplane building some people control the airplanes flying in the virtual world.