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        Discussion Long Distance Sailplane Transportation

#1 joesoar Oct 12, 2012 02:28 AM

Long Distance Sailplane Transportation
Looking for sources of boxes into which I can fit two Open Class sailplanes.

I have been using a Sportube for the past 10 years, but abandoning this after repeated & recent damage to my planes.

Anyone know of and/or using airline approved boxes? (I think the limit is 80" in length).

Would be interested in manufacturers/models/pricing/etc.

Thanks in advance,


#2 luvF3b Oct 12, 2012 04:42 AM

Ask us Aussies :-) we travel the world with models.

My Mate Steve has seen his box thrown from a 737 cargo door onto the tarmac. Ouch, it damaged the wing tips. Another mate, with a black sportube had his model left on the tarmac in 50 deg heat in Dubai.... The wings puffed like popcorn :-(

Apart from sportube, I have taken models overseas in 2 ways without problems:
1. Custom made cardboard box within a box with foam between the layers. Model supported by bulkheads within the inner box, or
2. Custom made box with aluminum extrusion edges and hard plastic sides made from a coroplast type material. Again, the model parts are supported by bulkheads ( these were the boxes that Cobra sailplanes were exported from the UK to Australia in back in the '90's)

Another solution I have seen is a simple coroplast box with models packed in plenty of bubble wrap ( Joe W can maybe provide more detail)

The secrets are:
A. Strong enough that luggage packed on top will not crush the box
B. "crumple zones" so that a dropped box from 6m from a cargo door on an airliner either deforms the box (eg the cardboard box in option 1) or has some sort of energy absorbing capability within the box ( eg a hard case with foam and bulk heads inside) the insides must have energy absorbing material at each end eg foam, or bulkhead where the parts are flexibly fixed to them.

Weight is also a consideration - the coroplast solution works well, cheap, disposable and energy absorbing. To my mind, the sportube does not allow enough support inside. Drop it and the parts inside move and smash into the ends.


#3 Tuomo Oct 12, 2012 05:09 AM

I fly all the time with coroplast box. It is strong enough and very nice to handle. And best of all, you can easily make a custom boxes that fit your needs.

Just remember to use enough padding inside to prevent fuses moving. I use mostly spare clothing. Weight of the box with 3 F3J planes, most inportant tools, clothing etc is about 15kg.

#4 jtlsf5 Oct 12, 2012 06:04 AM

Stick with the Sportube and ship FedEx. My experience is that TSA is more responsible than the airlines for damage when unpacking/repacking, as they have no concern for what is inside the box they rifle through and will just cram stuff back in. I've had to make claims on TSA the last 3 times I took planes on a flight with me, now just ship in advance and build the delivery time into the trip.


#5 stefanoc2 Oct 12, 2012 07:50 AM


do you use 10mm coroplast or are you able to find 8mm?


#6 FLY F3B Oct 12, 2012 12:06 PM

Check this out. I am moving from Sportube to this with a coroplast box built inside.



#7 Shedofdread Oct 12, 2012 01:06 PM

I took a couple of aeroplanes to Austria this summer and used one of these - http://images.peliproducts.co.uk/3dcases/1770/1770.html
I also use these at work they offer real peace of mind when tranporting valuable and / or expensive kit.

#8 janne savolainen Oct 12, 2012 01:45 PM

Peli cases are way too heavy....

#9 Frank S Oct 12, 2012 03:31 PM


Originally Posted by FLY F3B (Post 22982431)
Check this out. I am moving from Sportube to this with a coroplast box built inside.



That's an interesting thought. I already have one of those.

#10 FLY F3B Oct 12, 2012 03:38 PM

Tom Kiesling and Oleg have these. Really cool way to go. They are considered Ski bags, so tell the counter agent that there are skiis in there and you are in like Flynn.


#11 joesoar Oct 12, 2012 05:51 PM

Great suggestions.... I like the Coroplast idea!

@ JT: Fedex Ground for a Sportube between CA->HI = $240, HI->CA = $120 :(

However, if I go the Coroplast way, how do I get around the "80" linear dimension" limitation (length+width+height)? Currently, there is no limitation if is a Sportube, as it classifies as "Sporting Equipment" (snowskis in winter, waterskis in summer :)


#12 Tommy Wee Oct 13, 2012 01:04 AM

Janne Savolainen makes nice boxes, I have one and have been very satisfied with it. Sturdy and empty weight is reasonable.

Mine is black but next one will be some other colour, it becomes a bit too hot in the field. In Finland ok, but there seems to be warmer climates:)
Just bought me a 4m Xplorer2, I need to have another box (longer...).

Here is the link to Janne's firm, he is a professional box maker:



#13 joesoar Oct 13, 2012 02:56 AM

Great - thank you!


#14 Daryl Perkins Oct 13, 2012 06:29 AM

Joe, the DaKine bag is classified the same as a Sporttube by the airlines. It's a ski bag. Bob M and TK brought their models to SA in them.

Bob built himself a gorgeous and lighweight wood box that fit perfectly inside it. He flew Icon 2's and an Explorer. The I2 has a 72" center panel. I think he brought 3 of them.

Tom had a rather ghetto coroplast and tape job that was just as functional... ;)


#15 joesoar Oct 13, 2012 01:48 PM

Hmmm... Sounds interesting...

I was also thinking of taking two Sportube top halves, shorten one a bit and make a "Supertube" out of it, as the bottom half always has gotten damaged (thinner plastic).

Will check out the dimensions of the Dakine bag... Ideally trying to fit a Maxa 4 and an AVA (dang bent wings). Maybe have to modify the wings to flatten out during transportation.

Thanks again!


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