Rocket Glider & Free Flight

by FliteTest | February 2, 2015 | (27 Ratings) Posted in Just Fun

This is Josh Finn. Josh is an engineer who lives in Georgia and creates some of the coolest rockets we have ever seen. 

As you can probably tell by this photo, Josh is extremely passionate about model aviation. 

These delicate balsa builds resemble flat looking rocket, which they are! But they also hold a secret...

BOOM! Rocket glider! 

On most model rockets there is an ejection charge at the end of the burn that deploys a small parachute. 

What Josh did was use that ejection charge to instead deploy a pair of swing wings. 

In short, the rocket takes off, goes really, really high, and then the wings fold out and the craft glides gently back to Earth. 

These are the exact same Estes A8-3 engines you would use on any other type of model rocket but the end result is much more impressive! 

After a brief retrevial mission the glider made it back safely.

After a few more launches we though that Josh couldn't impress us more than he already had. Then he went to his car to retrieve this...

This is a stick and tissue replica of the Hughes H-4 Hercules (aka the Spruce Goose).

The "Spruce Goose" holds the record for the largest flying boat ever made and the largest wingspan of any aircraft ever made.

Also a fun bit of trivia, even though it was nicknamed the "Spruce Goose" it wasn't made from spruce at all, but instead birch wood.

This model is constructed from tissue paper covering a balsa frame. Believe it or not, there isn't a single scrap of electronics on this thing. 

The motors are instead powerd by very special rubber bands. Josh uses a winding tool with a counter to make sure each band has the same amount of tension. 

Once all the bands are wound, it's ready to go!

We've met a lot of brave pilots over the years, but anybody who builds something with this amount of detail and no way to control where it flies definitely has something special! 

We want to again thank Josh and his wife Hope for allowing us to visit their home and for showing us these amazing feats of model building. 


LordVader on February 4, 2015
Now that is some cool projects. I like all forms of flight, some more than others. This is really cool stuff, keep showing it.
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Phoenix1962 on February 4, 2015
This guy is just amazing! Why has he been hiding this talent all this time? He's also the luckiest man on the earth to have a wife that supportive!
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ultramicrobe on February 4, 2015
That is amazing work. Most of us use the power to compensate for design flaws all the time, and the first lunch is still nerve-wracking. So it is really an eye-opener to see him launch those planes with a big smile on his face.
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PropSpinner on February 4, 2015
Fabulous episode! I can't wait till the next segment comes. This Aspect of the hobby deserves some publicity. Won't that child have a good start in life with those wonderful people as parents.

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jrvalentin62 on February 4, 2015
They're all so awesome. That Spruce Goose was a work of art.
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Flyingninja on February 4, 2015
So cool!
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Gryf on February 4, 2015
I loved this episode! It reminded me of the balsa/tissue free-flight planes I built in high school, and the Estes Scissor-Wing Transport rocket I built in college, but was too chicken to launch. By the way, that one multi-fold wing was a little scary. No surprise he's an engineer!
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fishmanpuffer on February 4, 2015
I am not into the free flite but that was just awesome hat off to that guy and my highest respect. I bet this is where RC flying all started.Without guys like this one there mite not have been Rc flying.
I think of the time he invested in these planes and it blow my mind.Once again AWESOME. Thanks Flitetest keep up the good work. PS I bet Josh Bixler said cool name to Josh Finn LOL
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danield on February 4, 2015
Great article, Now we have 3 Josh's
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Digital Wolf on February 4, 2015
Awesome episode! Do you guys have plans for the shinden rocket plane?
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fishmanpuffer on February 4, 2015
I to would like to see some plans but I just want to put a motor on it and fly it without a rocket
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Digital Wolf on February 4, 2015
Ye indeed
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JMN- on February 4, 2015
Those sweep wing rockets are awesome! Can't wait for the f1d episode!
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jrbemis on February 4, 2015
Just awesome!
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Nvr2Late on February 4, 2015
I have to say that this is one of the most awe inspiring episodes yet. Seeing the wings open after the rocket launch was increadible!! And his Spruce Goose...amazing! I also can't wait for the F1D episode
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Fightknights on February 5, 2015
Very cool episode. Loved seeing the Spruce goose, what a magnificent plane!
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CJGFX on February 5, 2015
Stunningly amazing on so many level.. Well done FT for finding Mr Finn.....

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Tengushi on February 5, 2015
Here is a nice entry into this topic...
I gonna try this for sure! :o)
Thanks to FliteTest, always a pleasure and so much fun!
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Spitfiremk16 on February 5, 2015
Very neat episode! Seeing that spruce goose fly was pretty amazing!
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ewlie on February 5, 2015
Very cool, great episode. My rubber band planes as a kid failed dismally, these just show how it can be done.
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Narco on February 5, 2015
One of the best episodes yet, amazing build skills
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Guy123 on February 5, 2015
I loved this episode, definitely the best yet. More like this please! (I love the scale stuff, don't know about the rest of you?)
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Kurt0326 on February 5, 2015
I need more than 5 Stars... That was Awsome!!!! Now I need planes for those rocket gliders Josh.
Plans now... please :-)
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FAI-F1D on February 5, 2015
It'll be a few months, but plans are in the works. Be warned that it involves some fancy wire bending.
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torpor on February 5, 2015
Wow, one of the best FT episodes in a long time .. I really hope to see more of these guys, and to learn some of the amazing build techniques for F1D - 30 minutes of flight time! Amazing! :)
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gowen on February 6, 2015
Did you know there is an offical FAI class for rocket launched RC gliders?
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Nate from Ogden on February 6, 2015
As someone who built an Estes Swing Wing rocket glider and the Delta Winged rocket glider, I am so impressed with this stripped down rocket. It's sleek, simple and glorious. The Spruce Goose ff model even more so. Great work!
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sps3172 on February 6, 2015
Great episode. What an amazing model designer/builder this guy is!!!
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RMS on February 7, 2015
One of the best episodes yet!!! I would love to see Flitetest cover the one of the freeflight outings from the Flying Aces Club in Geneseo, NY. I started with rubber power in the 60s, then moved to CL and have been flying RC since the 80s but whenever I see the rubber powered outdoor freeflight models.....well it's just amazing. Flitetest needs to check that out!
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FAI-F1D on February 9, 2015
Believe it or not, that Spruce Goose was built for and flown at the 2010 FAC Nats in Geneseo. It won giant scale against two other beautiful multiengine rubber models--Chris Starleaf's Dash 8 and Vance Gilbert's Betty--both fantastic models in their own right. I also flew a peanut scale (13") Goose there (single propeller on the nose) and the oh so cool twin motor Grumman Skyrocket in open rubber scale
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NoUsername on February 10, 2015
That was great! Enjoyed watching the article. Have you considered ultallite flight?
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Flymour on March 1, 2015
Great article! Back in the mid 80's, I scratch built a space shuttle that had three D size rocket engines on it. I rigged it so that when the engines ejected, the elevator and rudder would snap into glide position and it would free fly in a circle. I got many launches from it, and people were always amazed. It finally crashed when only two engines lit, and it nose dived in. I still have the shuttle, and am rebuilding it incorporating an EDF motor with servos for rc flight. This video has really inspired me to finish this project!
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