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Old Dec 06, 2005, 10:17 PM
Lon Enloe is offline
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Colorado Springs, CO
Joined Oct 2004
731 Posts

Congrats on your desire to start building your own stuff. I did very much the same thing--the third plane I built (and the second that actually flew) was my own design, and it's all I've done after that. Did they all do OK? Yeah. Are they the best flying designs around? Not by a long shot--but that's part of the fun. You fly, you modify, you improve, and you learn a lot along the way.

You're doing the right thing by setting out some design criteria. I'm not sure that all can be met at the same time (fly really fast but stay up a long time), but you've got an idea of what you want the beast to do, so form can follow function. If you don't know what you want it to do, any design will work.

Let me encourage you to troll the Modelling Science forum. There are a lot of experienced people there with a lot of good ideas. I've learned a load there.

Bravo on your wanting a real airfoil! Flat plates drive me crazy. A lot of man-hours have gone into airfoil design--you may as well take advantage. If you don't want to spend a lot of time inverted, you can for with a semi-symmetric airfoil. Even the good ol' modified Clark Y would be fine. Aileron setups want only a few degrees dihedral, or none at all, depending on how you feel about your skills and how much/little stability you want to put into your design.

I've been pretty happy with a wing aspect ratio (span/chord) of about 5. Rolls OK, but also glides alright. You probably want a constant chord for your first design--easier to build and less sensitive to falling off to one side in the air.

The biggest suggestion I have is to look over magazines and suppliers' Web sites. See what other folks have done. There's a saying in the aero community: "If it looks right, it flies right." There's a reason that most airplanes look like...well, like airplanes. There's a lot of collective wisdom in what has been done before--despite the fact that some really goofy designs have made it into the air and back again.

Most of all, have fun!
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