Reach for the Sky


1950 Helicopters began to show up in our skies. The helicopter was actually originally supposed to replaced fixed winged aircraft like planes because they were so much smaller and could make short flights a lot faster. Helicopters were going to free up clogged roadways, get the traveller to their destination faster, and be just as safe as flying. In theory, this was an excellent idea, so why don't we see helicopters dominating the skies today? Helicopters are not nearly as fuel efficient has airplanes making them economically illogical compared to travel by plane. Helicopters are also limited with how much weight they are able to carry. Airplanes can carry much larger loads than helicopters can, which makes helicopters a bad choice for making shipments. As far as passenger experience, planes are much more comfortable than helicopters as the vibrate potentially causing great discomfort to it's riders. So why are so many hobbiests and flight enthusiasts getting into quadcopters and hexacopters when they're obviously inferior designs to model airplanes? Manoeuvrability.

The quadcopter and copters alike have become so extremely popular in scale models because they are capable of travelling in any direction, making tight turns, hovering on the spot, and taking up very little space to enter the air. Like helicopters, quadcopters and hexacopters are small, compacted, ideal for areas with limited space. They're the perfect training wheels for a model plane. Copters will react differently than a model aiplane will, but I'll reap the benefits of a broad perspective approaching the model plane.


I will be following the traditional '+' design. This means all my arms will be set at 90 degree angles with my rotors evenly spaced for the most efficient design to climb, descend and hover. This design also has a flaw: no yaw. I would have to create yaw by decelerating a pair of motors and speeding up those opposite of them to create an uneven distribution of power, allowing me to create yaw.


The hexacopter doesn't have too many variations of design that deviate from the popular two: evenly distrubuted and the double rotor designs. I will be building the evenly distributed 6 rotor design because of its stability. Like the quadcopter, the hexacopter will not have yaw built into its design so will create yaw by selecting motors to run-in at lower speeds while the opposing motors run harder. There will have to be significant upgrades to the batter, the quadcopter will consume much more energy than its four blade forefather. The upgrades will not be too terribly dramatic as the copter will be capable of heavier hardware with it's improved thrust.

Model Plane

Finally, the model plane. This craft will be by far the most difficult because it will react differently than any copter. Model planes will not be able to hover, and will have to maintain a certain velocity or it will lost lift and plummet to the ground. Though they are build to take a beating, I don't feel like risking an expensive piece of equipment just because I didn't take the time to learn about it.

Building a model airplane is going to be even more difficult because there will be a lot more math involved. Airfoil, lift, drag, wing span, weight and so many other factors will effect the quality of flight. Even more difficult, designing an autopilot to accommodate the sensitive design will be a major feat.