140cm Scratch Built Balsa Glider

by Jackson T | May 1, 2018 | (7) Posted in Projects

   Hi guys, this is my scratch built balsa glider, AKA “Albatross.” I built it off the plans from one of the kits that my dad bought when he was about my age (which is fourteen). I started building it about June two years ago before I got my first rc plane. It cost me about $60 in balsa and ultracote, which is definitely worth it!!! It flies really well. It is stable, it doesn’t normally tip stall, it has a well coordinated turn, and it glides awesome! I once managed to throw it 90m on a flat football oval!!! (which is about 300ft). I used milk bottles for the rudder hinge which turns out to be a bit stiff, but it works. For the elevator hinge I used packing tape. It’s not the best, but it does the job.

I used a soft drink bottle for the canopy which worked, but didn’t look as good as I was hoping. I tried to use a heat gun on it, but it just made it warp, which made matters worse. Oh well, it’s not the end of the world.


Wingspan: 140cm (55in)

Length: 91cm (36in)

Flying Weight: 315 grams (11 ounces)

Wing Area: 21 sq dm (325.5 sq in)

Wing Loading: 15 grams per sq dm (4.87 ounces per sq ft)

Battery: 800mah 3s (needed for balance)

Channels: 2 (rudder and elevator)

If you are thinking of giving balsa a go, yes it is harder, but it is very rewarding and worth the extra effort! My advice would be to start with a glider. They are very simple with way less to go wrong. Check out this article recently published by Flite Test here. If you already build with balsa, please share your tips, tricks, and masterpieces with us. Everyone would love to see them! 

I would like to thank Flite Test for teaching me how the electronics work and for giving me an interest in all things flying. I also want to thank my dad for helping me. There is no way I could have built it without him. After all, he showed me how to make my first paper aeroplane, which is where it all starts. It was his plans I used, he helped me buy the balsa, he helped me build it, and he helped me maiden it. Thanks dad, you are the best!!!


    I finally got a high start setup for it! It was really fun, and I got decent, minute long flights with it! I put my GPS watch in it and clocked its speed at 24km/h (or 15mph). I knew it was slow, but not that slow! On the fortieth or so launch, the wings folded! Although I had no wings, it didn't actually fall that fast, probably because the massive wings and 315 grams flying weight still meant it had had a fair bit of surface area.