FT Sparrow Build

by FliteTest | February 16, 2016 | (22) Posted in How To


The FT Sparrow is the perfect plane to learn together, build together and fly together. We designed the Sparrow so that it can be built in less than 45 minutes using all the skills needed to build FT planes.

The Sparrow makes a great chuck glider or 3 channel R/C aircraft, and it can even be outfitted for FPV!

The FT Sparrow wing has three pieces: the main piece and two small spars. Glue the spars down on the wing. 

Use a marker to make a double bevel cut, fold the wing over and glue it down.

Don’t forget to reinforce the seams with glue!

Use the dihedral gauge while you put glue in the center seam of the wing. Once that dries, reinforce the seam with tape to make the wing shape nice and strong.

If there is too much glue in the seams, remove it to keep excess weight off the plane.

Follow the score lines on the fuselage using a gift card. Use your fingernails to remove the excess foam.

Remove the paper from the foam board that will be curved around the nose, then use glue to secure the nose doublers.

Use a B fold on the sides of the fuselage and glue them down. Try to keep the sides as close to a 90 degree angle as possible.

Glue the tail portion of the fuselage together.

Wrap the foam around the bottom of the nose and secure it with glue. After that dries, crack the seam on the hatch and glue down the portion that meets the front of the nose.

Reinforce the nose and hatch using glue. Then pop out the tabs on the bottom side of the fuselage.

Use glue to attach the skid to the bottom of the fuselage.

Pop out the thrower hole, and use a marker to smooth the edges.

Tape the two tail pieces together on one side to make the V wing. Peel off the excess tape.

Use a marker to crush the center edge. Put glue down the center and use the triangle gauge to hold the shape as it dries.

Install the tail to the back of the fuselage. If the tail isn’t flesh against the reference lines, use your marker to increase the angle of the foam inside the fuselage. Glue the tail to the fuselage, making sure the tail matches the reference lines.

Use a barbecue skewer to open up the reference holes in the fuselage and tail, and slide the skewer through. Cut away the excess, leaving a centimeter on either side.

Insert the cut-down skewer into the tail. Loop two rubber bands on the skewer before pulling it through the other side.

Pass the skewer through the nose. Leave about a thumb’s length on both sides of the nose and cut off any excess skewer.

Place the wing on top of the fuselage, and secure the rubber bands to the skewer on the side of the nose.

Add clay to the front nose until the plane is balanced.

Lightly lift up both sides of the elevator to give it about a millimeter of deflection on both sides.

You've now completed the free flight glider version of the FT Mighty Mini Sparrow. From here you can continue to convert it into an R/C plane! 

Drag a gift card through the score cuts on the power pod, and use your fingernails to remove the excess foam.

Apply glue to the sides of the power pod. Make sure each side is perpendicular.

Glue the firewall to the top of the power pod. After the glue dries, reinforce the firewall and power pod with tape. Cut out the tape over the holes in the firewall.

Use the shortest screws to attach the motor. Leave the wire leads on the outside.

Remove the wings and loosely fit the prop to the power pod. Place the power pod on the tail and make indicator lines before mounting the power pod with glue.

Lightly cut the indicator lines out and remove that chunk of foam.

Fold the elevators over and cut a bevel to make a hinge. Reinforce the hinge line with glue.

Place the power pod and make sure it is spaced correctly. Secure the power pod with glue.

Make a score line on the fuselage for the push rods. Pass the push rod through to make sure it does not bind.

Snake the control horns through the push rod and glue the control horns to the tail.

Make a modified Z bend on the push rods, and cut off the excess wire.

Remove the sticker from the servo, and scratch the servo so the glue has something to stick to.

Lace the servo arm into the push rod and glue the servo into place. Repeat the process with the other servo.

Remove the prop and tape down the control wires at the back before installing the ESC. Tuck the ESC wires underneath the barbecue skewer before connecting them to the control wires.

Connect the ESC to the receiver, and bind the receiver to the transmitter.

Install the prop so the numbers are facing the nose. Make sure the prop is spinning clockwise. Attach the proper bushing and mount the prop.

Glue the receiver inside the fuselage with the antenna sticking out of the bottom.

Install the wing and check the balance of the plane. Once it is balanced, connect the electronics and adjust the throw.

The FT Sparrow balances optimally with a 1000mAh 3S battery. If you have FPV gear or a smaller battery, you may need to add more nose weight.

The FT Sparrow is ready for test flight!



Weight without battery: 6.5 oz (187 g)

Center of Gravity: 2.75 in (69 mm) from leading edge of wing

Control Surface Throws: 12° deflection (elevons) Expo 30%

Wingspan: 28.5 in (723 mm)

Recommended Motor: 2300 kv 1806 size motor

Recommended Prop: 5 x 3 - 6 x 3 prop

Recommended ESC: 12 amp minimum

Recommended battery: 800 mAh 3S minimum

Recommended Servos: (2) 5 gram servos





FT Mighty Mini Sparrow (FULL)

FT Mighty Mini Sparrow (TILED A-Size)

FT Mighty Mini Sparrow (TILED B-Size)

FT Mighy Mini Sparrow (ALL IN ONE)





New to the R/C hobby?

Here are some resources to help get you up to speed!

Beginner Series: WATCH HERE!

Electronics Setup: WATCH HERE!

First Flight Quick Tips: WATCH HERE!

Scratch Building without Knives: WATCH HERE!

Got glue?? Get Some Here!


Neskair on February 17, 2016
Awesome! funny in the end of the video you can see people peeking out the window at josh.
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jsabater on February 24, 2016
Hi Guys,
I am almost finished scratch building the Sparrow. Is the CG confirmed to be 1.75 in from the leading edge or is it 2.75 in? It will be a shame to crash on the maiden flight!
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jobewankenobi on February 17, 2016
I believe one of the Sparrows on Monday's video had Ailerons. Any chance someone is going to address this mod?
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caleb_rc on February 17, 2016
I was wondering the same thing. Im sure it probably wont be too hard to add. I was also wondering if they would be effective or not?
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flyingsquirrelrc on February 17, 2016
looks like one of those double fuselage p-51s...?
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ghpizzajoe on February 18, 2016
Great job! I've been a follower on You Tube for months. Have scratch built about 5 foamies. Been in the hobby about 8 years. Your website is a blast! Sparrow is next project, will use for combat. I will add skids to bottom and a small lipstick camera for fun. Thanks
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SHolman on February 19, 2016
There used to be a link at the bottom of these articles that took us to the forum discussion...?

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Del-Dredd on February 20, 2016
Clarificaton required for CoG, Build guide above states 2.75 inch and the build video shows marks approx. at 2.75 inch compared to the plan which states and shows 1.75 inch.

As the Kit has them at 2.75 and it seems to fly fine as glider and powered I would say published plan is marked wrong.

Please amend plan
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Del-Dredd on February 23, 2016
After more investigation it seems 1.75 is correct, 2.75 at top of this page and 2.75 marks on kits are wrong.
Has been proven by test flight at 2.75 (completely hairy and tail heavy, 1.75 flew on rails.
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Jure Z on February 18, 2016
Why putting back pressure on elevator and not removing some clay from the nose (chuck glider)? Shouldn't the result be the same?
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anon on February 17, 2016
Is it just me or are there Easter eggs in these videos. They made sure whatever plane they were peeking through at the end of the video was in the shot. Looks like Peters next design that's going to be added to the store???
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Del-Dredd on February 18, 2016
I thought an easier way to put power pod in would be leave Vtail as it is for increased strength. Cut down the sides of the pod so that it slides in under the V tail, its horizontal surface sitting on top of fuselage bottom.

Couple of skewers and its done.
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Del-Dredd on February 18, 2016
An addition to above, make the down thrust angle into the end where bulkhead is mounted.
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knoticalknots on February 26, 2016
OK my next problem is the CG I built from a set of full size plans I downloaded. When I drew out the wing I punched holes in the marked spots for the CG so when the wing was done they showed on the underside of the wing. Now I used the 1806 motor and when I put a 500mah battery in the nose it is still tail heavy. I opened the hatch and laded a bar of lead across the front at the forward edge of the hatch and it is balanced with both the battery and lead!! Lead 1 1/2 oz. The ones of you that are already flying is this what you found? The marked spots on the plans put the CG at 1 3/4 inch back.
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he boss on February 24, 2016
Hi Guys
can i use 2S 900mah battery for this?
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jsabater on February 25, 2016
I also have a DX8 and it was confusing for me also. First you have to plugin the servos to the elevator and aileron channels. Setup your transmitter under Wing Type as follows: Wing (Elevon), Tail (Normal). The first time around I chose VTail and did not work! If reversing servos does not result in the right configuration switch the servo leads. Elevator to aileron and visceversa. It worked for me.
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ASATopGun on February 26, 2016
What do you mean plug servos into aileron andelta elevator? How do you go about plugging into both?
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kd5uwg on February 28, 2016
Does anyone have the plans with dimensions on it? I have no way to print out full size plans, and with out dimensions, I havent had much luck trying to draw this plane out on my foam board. using the scale at the top, of the plans has not helped.
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Flapjackz on August 20, 2016
I have plans with build dimensions if you need them. Its fairly easy to create your own if you have Adobe Acrobat and the PDF File.
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Fearless FPV on February 17, 2016
I don't see why you have to glue the power pod in. Why not pass a couple of BBQ skewers through the sides to hold the pod in place?
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localfiend on February 17, 2016
I think they were just trying to reduce the number of parts and keep the build simple. BBQ skewers should be just as strong as gluing the pod in. Anything that will destroy one, will destroy the other. I drew up some plans to make a mighty mini pod work with the usual bbq skewer arrangement.

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Thorsclaw on February 17, 2016
there is no need to glue the power pod in but the idea is that this is a beginners plane and therefore might need something more robust and crash resistant than a couple barbecue skewers
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Munk on February 19, 2016
How's this little guy at slope soaring? Been wanting to get into that and this looks like a fun platform to build for it.
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Chrysopelea-RC on December 26, 2016
I made my FT sparrow as a slope soar glider. It worked okay.
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knoticalknots on February 25, 2016
Guy I did the build and am planning to fly with my DX8 but when I set the wing setting for V tail I am no getting the up and down response? I have never set up a v tail before and any help with the right setup using a DX8 would be helpful.
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PropSpinner on February 18, 2016
Great video. I like to see anything encouraging kids or anyone in this hobby.

Although removing the tape from the firewall is a valid point, electric motors have lots of torque. Ask Anyone who races RC cars.
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The-One-Who-Never-Crashes on February 17, 2016
I remember helping kids build this at the AMA Expo... what a memory!
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Rico13 on February 20, 2016
great little plane. My servos ripped the paper of the foam so it crashed. I just cut a hole on the side and ran the servos side ways and the control rods down the side of the plane. used a zip tie to hold the rod in place. Also seems to pull hard to the left so I move the control tram over to is has a right turn in it. now it flies strait. Lastly if we can get rid of this 20 mph wind we are having in NC I could go have some more fun with this plane.
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danger41263 on February 17, 2016
that is one of the nices little plane you design and build
i am from canada just by ottawa
we have greath hobby but does not have it
ordering fom US cost us way to much ,with the exchange and duty
a big thanks for the plans
i love it
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Bonards on February 17, 2016
The same here in Brazil, the free plans are a great thing, although it takes more time to cut all the foam, you can make some modifications. Another problen here is this foam board, is hard to find and expensive, so I build the planes in depron only, it isn't easy to do the A and B folds, but you can modify the way to build and get the same result, for example put some tape in the back, and do a 50% score cut, than is the same process as the foam board.
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nebulous on February 18, 2016
Depron is a bit more brittle than flight test foam. Honestly, just tape up all the (outside) surfaces with wing tape. Very light, very colorful, and makes all the A and B folds easy.

I currently use the HobbyKing foam and tape. Cheap!
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Bonards on February 18, 2016
Exactly, if you cover all the external parts with tape it became very strong, my FT Bloody Wonder has crashed in a dive yesterday and suffered minimal damage, it was very fast in the during the crash, I didn't belive when I recovered it in one piece.
Other thing that can be used to cover the plane and make the A and B folds is vinyl, it has more colors than comum tapes, but it's heavier than package tape.
Hope this could help someone with the same problens as I had when I figured how to built the FT planes.
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knoticalknots on February 25, 2016
That is what I love about having this site! jsabater it worked and now I can maiden this weekend!!!!!
thanks for the help.
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NorcoT on March 12, 2016
Hi guys, thanks for the great little kit/plans and the guide, its a fantastic little project. To save cutting out the plywood firewall i've modeled up a 3D printable one. Free on thingiverse for all :) http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1410814
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Psychron on June 15, 2016
As I was reading this thread my mind drifted off to a scenario where I can achieve 1/16 of an inch for a firewall made from gift cards by simply doubling up the gift cards with hot glue and then drilling through for the mounting screws and wires. I originally thought one card should do it but I have concerns about screw penetration into the motor itself, so I figured I shouldn't mess with the thickness. Essentially I'm planning on using gift cards as a substitute for any wood used in these builds. I'll just have to rough up the sides I'm applying glue to, just like Josh does when he's gluing servos to the inside walls of the fuselages. Got all my stuff coming in a day or so. I can't wait to get started.
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Hayshaker on March 23, 2016
I just scratch built a sparrow glider out of blue foam from your tiled plans - flew qiute well after tweeking the CG a bit - 1 3/4" back from LE is about right on. Is there any chance you could come up with a version that is not as short coupled? I realize this would take a bit more foam board, but would be a lot easier to get to fly right. I'm gonna see what I can come up with. will let you know.

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XXXTechRC on March 7, 2016
Hey FT followers...
Hate to beat a dead horse here but do we really have a confirmation of the CG on this bird? Someone above states 1.75 flies on rails and 2.75 flies barely at all, however, going by the markings on the printed plan, I had to put an 1800 3 cell in the nose before it was even close to balanced. My sparrow is complete aside from CG, but I won't maiden until I'm 100% certain where it is. I'm sure I'm not the only one that would love a confirmation from the awesome FT crew...???
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iflyoften on March 9, 2016
This was a fun little airplane. Very tail heavy so I used a lot of the air dry clay for balance. Flew great from the start. I am going to build another one increasing the nose by 2 inches and adding some carbon fiber from the nose to the tail for durability. Kudos to Josh on a really fun plane.
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BEDDIRO on March 9, 2016
The throw gauge that comes with the kit has a H and L gauge. I'm servo mixing with a Taranis so I can change the weights of servo mix and I'm wondering if "L" is for elevator or aileron only and then the "H" may be for elevator and aileron added together? Anyone have a mix percentage that they have found to work well? I'm new to v-tails.
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Art Lane on April 27, 2016
Have been in the process of cutting out all parts and have just started glueing, hot melt glue...
Looks like a great kit for the beginners, providing they have no nerves, or nerves of steel, ha ha...
Mine is on black foamboard and the only motor I have is the "Grand Turbo GT2205/22 for 6" props.
It's going to need a larger MM, but I don't think this will hinder the operation of it... On a 450mAh lipo, 2S..
Have built many of FT's foamies and this one looks like a "Hoot"..
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Luca Studwell on September 2, 2016
What is the thickness of the foam board?
I don't seem to be able find it.
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kuubje23 on July 20, 2018
Did you already find it?
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sgpena on April 14, 2016
Ji All, I am new on this, And I was looking for the motor, I found the Emax MT1806 but reading the spesification i found that it is only 1430kv . Also I was looking the Emax MT2204 but the size of ti is bigger And I don't know if it willl fix on the plane. Wich are your recomendation?
(BTW, sorry for my english I am from Argentina)
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jsabater on March 11, 2016
Ifinally maidened the plane and flew great. The CG is definitely 1.75 not 2.75 as marked on the plans. Even with the 800 mah 3s from flitetest all the way up in the nose the plane is tail heavy. I had to add lead weight in the nose to get it close to balance at 1.75 in.
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Lucas voortman on April 12, 2016
I think its a great plane i made a 8 min freeflight flight ther was a load of rising air it was realy awsome but i was wondering of its a no copyright plan so i could show my youtube subscribers how to build it
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Del-Dredd on March 3, 2016
That's what Tiled plans are for unless you cannot print them out on normal A4 etc either.
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scote on March 28, 2016
Ok so one thing that no one has asked is how do you measure the deflect of the vtail. So do you move one control surface using both controls to get the max control throw from the plane. Thanks for any responses.
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dana8192 on July 22, 2016
"Make sure the prop is spinning clockwise" is not quite a complete description. You should say "Make sure the prop is spinning clockwise when viewed from the tail of the plane".

Frankly, you said "Install the prop so the numbers are facing the nose" so why not also say "Make sure the prop is spinning counter-clockwise when viewed from the nose of the plane". This way the idea is the same regardless of whether it is a pusher or a tractor setup.
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masterflyer on October 29, 2022
wrong numbers face back of airplane , motor is always behind the numbers also if you look at the prop and use the centering spacer you will see it goes towards the engine
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Art Lane on July 26, 2016
Well, July 25th, finally finished my "Sparrow"..... Now, the "Maiden" flight....
To get the proper CG, (!.75"}, i used Plumbers putty. All in all with servos mounted sideways, sticking through the fuse, rearward, I found it quite tail heavy, but the plumbers putty brought it up to the proper location.
Orange HS receiver, 10amp ESC, and an 800mAh lipo, 2S, it's ready to go..... I think I'll name it---- "You Try It!". It looks like quite a handfull for an old buzzard line me....(82Years young)...
Hopefully I'll have some video of the maiden and will try to get it attached on FT's pages....
Now for a water craft...
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91shadowrider on March 7, 2016
I flew mine today with the original cg 2.75 inches back
From the leading edge and it flew like dump! I finally found the right cg further into the comments here and flew it again. It flew great until it spiraled uncontrollably into a puddle. Servo must have went haywire or something.Time to build another. It is very fun.
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PlainsPirate42 on April 16, 2020
So when you print the plans they print about 5/7scale, is their a way to get them to print 100% ?
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masterflyer on October 29, 2022
Thanks for the info on the CG ..someone needs to confirm the specifications of the planes before they put the info on the internet ...as I TOTALED a brand new Sparrow because of the cg being a 1 inch off ..These planes are suppose to be for newbies to the hobby ....
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FT Sparrow Build