How to Mod FT Designs

by FliteTest | November 24, 2017 | (11) Posted in How To

Here's where you're at: you want to design your own aircraft, you want to do it inexpensively and you want to make sure it works first time. So where on earth do you start? Here's where: you begin by modding existing Flite Test designs to make them your own. This article covers what's necessary to do this and aims to show you that anyone (yes anyone) can be an RC airplane designer. 

The great thing about the foam board, paper and other basic materials that we work with is that it makes our designs super customizable! All of our plans are available for free and can be printed out on any normal printer. 

All that is required to modify one of our designs is to modify the plans, either before or after printing them out. Modifying one of our Speed Build Swappable aircraft kits can also be done by using the plans as templates and manufacturing your own modified components from foam board. For example, this FT Sea Duck could be switched up by changing the style of the wings or tail!

Ways you can customise FT Swappable designs

A way to drastically change the shape of an FT design is to reshape the wings, tail or fuselage. This can be done to such extremes that you end up with a plane that looks entirely different. It's a good way to start designing stuff and is promoted by Josh Bixler as the way to go! Check out this old Flite Test podcast that covers this technique. As an example of how far you can go with changing up Flite Test plans, here is a small biplane based on the Mighty Mini FT Scout

Another way to mod the FT designs to your own liking is to detail your plane. We've made a dedicated article on this here which shows you various ways to do this and paint your plane.

How to Modify FT plans

Method 1:

By far the simplest way to change up a Flite Test airplane is to use paper templates. This way, all you need is a printer, some paper and a pen!

It's very easy to draw new shapes onto existing plans, cut them out and then trace onto the foam board. 

At a later stage, if you want to make your templates a little more permanent, you can scan them into a computer to be safely stored away and printed again when you need them. 

Check out the end result of modifying the tail of this FT Scout!

Now it resembles a German WW1 fighter a little more than it did with a standard tail.

Method 2:

A way that makes sharing your designs very simple is by drawing your templates on CAD software.

It's quite straightforward to modify the existing FT plans to make them your own. When you have finished, simply print them out and cut them up! 

Here is a link to a series of videos by Nic Lechner on designing with CAD software that you can use to hone your skills and find out which CAD programme is best for you. 

We hope you enjoyed this article and found it helpful. If you changed any Flite Test designs to your own liking, you can post about it in the FT forums! If you've made a new design based from one of ours, you could share the plans that you've created. It's a great way to get your work out there! Publishing an article is a good way to do this. Check out our article guide if you're new to this. We're looking forward to seeing what you make!


Article written by James Whomsley Editor

Instagram @jameswhomsley


r2wjax on January 16, 2018
Excellent article! One of the things I enjoy most is building planes... not flying... that makes me a total wreck and at the same time can be most gratifying. But building, repairing and modifying is where I spend the majority of my time and perhaps enjoy most... win or lose. One thing I would like to see more of is how to utilize the materials you build with better... i.e. foam board. I really like the series of articles by dharkless, the "half sheet no waste" and "One sheet no waste", and essentially his approach to designing, planning and building his unique airplanes. I use the Inkscape (open source ) program to copy/paste ( ungroup/group) from Flite Test plans, onto a 20" to 30" document, getting the most out of single sheet, if possible, or simply isolating a single piece, like a wing, and working on it individually. Lengthening or widening, etc. Great seeing the enthusiasm here, thanks for sharing, and keep us posted!
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tomh on January 28, 2018
Awesome article. My first FT build was the Bushwacker. I was thrilled that it flew, but was squirrel y and unpredictable, and crashed a lot. After building and flying a sea otter of snow (love it!) I built a new Bushwacker with major mods! Added 5" to the span, added a little bit of dihedral, made the ailerons wider but shorter, removed the counerbalance from all surfaces. I bolted on a tom cat park 450..and the result was amazing! 1/2 power, flies like a gentle trainer, and floats long and slow. Full power, it hovers great, and will do inverted all day long, spin rate is still insane. Thank you flitetest!! I'm hooked on scratch building, and want to learn how to design from the ground up next.
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How to Mod FT Designs