Sailplane Conversion for Tiny Trainer

by winglet | June 6, 2015 | (13) Posted in Projects

Josh Bixler's Tiny Trainer has been a huge success for Flite Test.  And why wouldn't it be?  There is something for everyone here.  First of all it is really easy and fun to build. Secondly....depending on how you decide to build it determines what kind of airplane you get and all versions fly well.

The Tiny is really a component airplane.  The airplane is built in different sections (forward section, power pod, tail section and wing)  Once the components are constructed, it is just a matter of selecting the parts you want to use and mating them together with BBQ skewers and rubber bands.  Up till now you either ended up with a very easy to fly 3 channel trainer,or a slightly zippier 4 channel sport/trainer. Even these 2 versions take on different personalities depending on the power of your battery pack.  (2 cell or 3 cell)

 I have to emphasise how really great both of these versions fly.  If you are a newbe or just in a lazy mood, the basic 3 channel wing is your choice.  Want something a lot more spirited?  Then quickly switch over to the 4 channel wing and add a 3 cell pack.  You have a Tiny Hotliner!

To me though, the obvious missing wing was one for gliding/soaring.  The other two wings glide well but they really wern't designed with thermal soaring in mind.

With that, I took on the task of designing a wing to turn the Tiny Trainer into an awesome sailplane!

Just like everything else with the Tiny Trainer, converting it to a sailplane was relatively easy.  The basis of what I did was I just simply took the 4 channel wing and extended it at the root end to a full 30 inches (the length of a sheet of Adams (DollarTree) Foam Board.  I also lengthend the ailerons to full span and programmed my radio into making them ailerons/spoilers. THATS IT!

Here is a rough template showing a few details of what I did for each wing.  Look at this photo and the origional plans and I am confident you will figure it out because it is nothing but a stretched out 4 channel wing.

Here is the underside of the wing decorated in packing tape in bright colors.  Make it bright because this baby can really soar high!

Pre Flight Setup

The 60 inches of this wing create a LOT of lift.  That combined with a rather short tail moment can make it a little twichy if you don't do a couple of things. just need to take a LOT of the throw out of the elevator.  Fly it the first time with not a lot of elevator throw and work in more as you get used to it or simply set up some dual rates. The other thing I suggest to prevent a wild ride on your first flight is to launch with about half throttle.  I set the aileron throw to about the same deflections as my stadard 4 channel wing and that seems about right.  I'm using full flaps as spoilers.  If you want to setup flaps I suggest you fool around with the control surfaces until you can get them to drop without binding to a full 75 degree position.  This works like a lift dump and can really help you get her back on the ground without landing in the next county.


I like to launch into any wind with about half throttle, establishing a gentle climb and then powering up somewhat but usually not all the way to full throttle unless the battery is starting to sag.  Even at reduced throttle, climb is brisk and it doesn't take but a few seconds to get this airplane to altitude.  Once leveled off and motor to off, a very nice slow glide can be trimmed in.  It really seems to sniff out every little bit of lift on it's own.  Kinda reminds me of my old Gentle Lady.  With the super long flaperons creating some drag on the lowered aileron a touch of rudder in the turns really helps, so don't forget the rudder in your turns. The Tiny Sailplane is very capable of tight pivot turns as long as you remember your rudder.

 My favorite way to land is to setup a nice long final into the wind and then go to full flaps/spoilers.  She will generally set up a nice smooth and rather steep slow glide to the ground. Because most of your ailerons have now become flaps you must remember to use a LOT of rudder to keep the wings level.

To the veteran sailplane pilot this model will seem completely natural to you.  To the newbe sailplane pilot, this is a good way to get started.

Other Information

If you haven't seen my other two articles on the other wings, there is more information there on my other two setups.  Links are supplied at the bottom of this page.

My setup for the sailplane version is exactly the same as for the other two.

The SunnySky X2204S 2300 KV motor coupled to an APC 6X4e propeller is a beautiful combination on this airplane.  However, I think many other motors and props will probably work as well.  Use what you've got.

My favorite battery is a Zippy 850mah 3 cell compact 25C.  Fits just right.

I use a 12amp esc and 9 gram servos all the way around on the sailplane version.

So, in a nutshell there you have it.  It would be fun to fly this side by side with something like a Radian.  I have a feeling that in the right hands it would deliver similar performance.  Not bad for a couple of sheets of Dollar Tree Foamboard.




udo789 on June 7, 2015
Super useful article.
Log In to reply
jrvalentin62 on June 9, 2015
Thanks for sharing your experience. Very cool. Look forward to trying this set up out. Cheers!
Log In to reply
Flyingninja on June 10, 2015
Are you still running it on the 250 size motor?
Log In to reply
winglet on June 10, 2015
Yes, still the 250 and I actually throttle back on climb a little. More stable that way.
Log In to reply
Flyingninja on June 10, 2015
Wow! Those little motors or super powerful.
Log In to reply
Battman on June 11, 2015
Have you tried this version as a chuck glider?
Log In to reply
winglet on June 11, 2015
No, haven't tried this version as a chuck glider. Might be fun.
Log In to reply
nizzamms on June 14, 2015
hi i am interested on make it into sailplane, can u close up the writing on your wing mod pic...
i presume on the left side its said 2" ..and for aileron 23 inch..sorry i cannot see the number ...

anyway love to see your sailplane in action, can upload a video if possible
Log In to reply
winglet on June 14, 2015
I know that template photo is hard to see. Yes, the dimension on the side is 2 inches. The length of the aileron is 23.75 inches. I may try to capture a video of the sailplane in flight but in reality it mostly just looks like a tiny dot in the sky. Not much to see in a video. Good luck with your project.
Log In to reply
gumins0142 on September 23, 2015
Is the total wingspan 60"?
Log In to reply
rawhide on June 18, 2015
I just finnished my sail plane conversion. I elongated the trainer wing insted of the sport wing. I cant wait to try it out. (Yes i can batteries are not charged) Thank you for the great idea.
Log In to reply
gumins0142 on September 23, 2015
Is it a 3 channel? or 4?
Log In to reply
winglet on June 18, 2015
Think I will have to try the three channel wing as well. Let us know how yours works rawhide.
Log In to reply
rawhide on June 26, 2015
It works amazingly. My wing span ended up at 54 inches. It makes the plane way more docile and enjoyable to fly. I am also able to do a lot more gliding therefor increase in my flight time.
Log In to reply
sherman8tor on June 23, 2015
No carbon fiber rod spar or anything? No danger of the wings folding at that length?

It really would be nice if the dimensions were readable in the photo. Any chance of uploading a bigger/higher-resolution version? Are all of the spacings for the folds the same as for the stock wing? Is it just the ailerons and overall length that you changed?

How does it do with a breeze/wind? (My stock TT was getting knocked around pretty good in just 5 to 8 mph the other day because it's so light, which left me wondering how it would have felt with wings almost 2X the length.

In any case, this is a great idea and I can't wait to try it! Thanks for writing it up.
Log In to reply
winglet on June 23, 2015
I have quite a few flights on the long wing now without any indication of failure although I do take it easy with it and don't fly in a lot of gusts. I'm sure you could easily fold it if you tried. Yes, all the folds are the same as the stock. I just added length at the rood end and extended the ailerons. That is really it. Just keeping it simple and fun.
Log In to reply
webbhm on June 25, 2015
I tried a simple wing for the 3 channel version, but the rudder seems to lack authority with that much wing. Great climbing (24 gram Hex motor with 2 cell) and seems to handle nicely otherwise. I love the little glider, so not ready to slice off the rudder and attach a larger one (yet). I definitely like where this is heading.
Log In to reply
scott firman on June 26, 2015
Its clear this little plane has three lives to live instead of two. Where else can you find plans for free and make planes so durable even a child can get into it. I would like to see future planes offering optional builds. I tell everyone about the beauty of dollar store foam board.I just hope there's enough left for my future builds.
Log In to reply
winglet on June 26, 2015
I agree Scott. Whats next? A little ducted fan motor on a power pod? Did I just say that?
Log In to reply
sherman8tor on June 30, 2015
I maidened my 59" wing at sunrise this morning. It flew great right from the start! :) What an interesting and fun option! Great idea.

The least little dawn breeze definitely made the plane bobble, so I don't think this is going to be a wind flier. (The Tiny Trainer jumps around in a 5 mph wind even with the sport wing, so this isn't surprising.)

I was worried about folding the wing, so I made my spar run the length of the wing continuously, but once it was built, the wing seemed plenty strong. Still, it's nice to have a little extra strength.

Yes, the elevator is definitely sensitive and I did end up dialing mine back a lot.

With flapperons set to about 70 degrees, I was getting almost zero aileron response, so I did't use that setting for landing. It's cool how when it's coming in to land and just a few feet over the deck, it just keeps gliding! The only problem that I had 40 minutes of flying (4 batteries) was almost overrunning the end of the field twice.

Great project, and a great third wing for the Tiny Trainer.
Log In to reply
gumins0142 on September 23, 2015
Anyone know if the Flite test power pack will have enough power to fly with this wing?
Log In to reply
OrangutangSurfer on January 18, 2016
This looks great! Does it actually thermal? What's the longest flight you've had on a single pack?
Log In to reply
Neskair on February 3, 2016
Looks Great! maybe I can convince my brother to make this wing for his tiny trainer.(and then let me fly it :)
Log In to reply
C.Siegmann on February 8, 2017
Going to try building this, any updates anyone has on this thread?
Log In to reply

You need to log-in to comment on articles.

Sailplane Conversion for Tiny Trainer