Model Flying Machines

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1796 - Cayley Helicopter Model
Designed by Sir George Cayley, this was one of the first model helicopters. Sir George's drawing of it, plus a written description, can be found here

The book "Sir George Cayley's Aeronautics 1796-1855" by Charles Gibbs-Smith is a valuable resource for anyone wanting to make replicas of Sir George's designs. As the book details many of his models, only the more significant examples are listed here.

1804 - Cayley Model Glider
The first known model glider, it used a child's kite for the main wing. Sir George's own description of it can be found here.

Plans for a simple, scaled-down, model can be found here at the aeromodelling section of the Lawrence Hargrave website.

An article about making a large-scale, RC version of the Cayley Model Glider can be found in the Dec 2003 issue of "RC Model World".

1853 - Cayley Improved Riding Rudder Glider Model
A large and light glider, the design of which was very well thought out. A description of it can be found here

Some excellent photographic studies of a replica can be seen in the article "Checking up on Sir George" by John Sproule, published in the "Shell Aviation News" issue #405, 1972. 

1853 - Cayley Improved Helicopter Model 
A simple but effective pull-string device, with a 3-bladed metal rotor. An illustration and a written description of it can be found here.

1870 - Penaud Helicopter 
The first model to use twisted rubber as a power source, Alphonse Penaud's little helicopter could fly for up to 26 seconds. Bill Hannan's plans for a full-sized replica appear in "Model Builders And Their Models", available from Hannan's Runway.

1871 - Penaud Planophore 
The first model plane! A simple elegant monoplane with a rubber motor. Plans for three different modern day versions (by Christy Magrath, Reg Parham and Bill Hannan) all appear in "Stick & Tissue International" Vol. 2, available from Hannan's Runway.

Additionally, online plans for the Planophore can be found at this Brazilian site.

1878 - Wright Bat
The rubber-powered helicopter that inspired the Wright Brothers as children. Plans for a fine reconstruction of it can be purchased from the Wright Brothers Aeroplane Company. Check out a couple of photos of the Bat here and here.

NEW!! The company Midwest Products make a plastic kitset of the Bat - very well priced, but not long-lasting ...

1879 - Dandrieux Butterfly
A rubber-powered helicopter, the Butterfly was a very popular toy of its era. Plans for a very crude version of it appeared in the February 1978 issue of "Model Builder" magazine. Reprints can be purchased from Bill Northrop.

1891 - Ninomiya "Karasu" Model
A rubber-powered monoplane model made by the Japanese aviation pioneer Chuhachi Ninomiya. A kitset for a modern day re-interpretation of the "Karasu" can be purchased from the SAMS website (the product reference is G2000) - the 17" model can be seen about a 1/3rd way down the page.

A more realistic version of the "Karasu" appeared in the December 1983 "Model Builder" magazine. This model had a 21" wingspan and could fly on average for 30-40 seconds. Copies of the article and plans can be purchased from Bill Northrop.

1893 - Hargrave Boxkite
The kite that helped launch the age of the flying machine. An online guide for making an accurate replica is located at Russell Naughton's excellent Lawrence Hargrave site.

1893 - James Means' Soaring Machine
A simple glider made from tin plate and pine and which had a pendulum control system! A 3-view and description, sourced from a James Means biography, can be found here.

1894 - James Means' Improved Soaring Machine
An improvement on the first machine, as this one was made from materials that were more likely to survive crashes intact. A 3-view and description, sourced from a James Means biography, can be found here.

1899 - Wright Brothers' Kite
A simple biplane kite, built to test the Wilbur and Orville's  theory on warp control. Detailed plans for a replica, as well as a more user-friendly version of it, can be downloaded at the Wright Brothers Aeroplane Company site.

Inculabula Online sell a fine but semi-accurate version of the kite as well. With a price tag of $US75.00, this definitely is a toy that's targeted at the indulgent grandparent market.

1908 - TWK Clarke Flyer
TWK Clarke was one of the first model airplane manufacturers, producing canard, pusher prop models in a variety of sizes. Click here for a patent drawing of the Clarke Flyer.

The Feb 1994 issue of the British "Aero Modeller" magazine contains photos and a reduced-scale plan for a 60" wingspan Clarke Flyer.

The following issue of "Aero Modeller", March 1994, featured an excellent and detailed history about TWK Clarke and his models, and is well worth reading. 

An article by Mark Croome in the June 2002 "Model Flyer" contains photos and plans for another replica of the 60" wingspan Clarke Flyer.


1908 - W H Martin's Flying Machine
A small rubber-powered monoplane, this model is notable for its small size and its contra-rotating propellers, with blades made of feathers!

Click here to view additional photos of the model and also patent drawings, which can be used when building a copy of this model.

1909 - Duigan Brothers' Model
A small rubber powered monoplane that had distinctive cow-horn dihedral, this model was possibly the first 'true' model plane in Australia. Russell Naughton of the Lawrence Hargrave website details a project to make a modern day replica of it.

1912 - TWK Clarke Flyer
One of Mr Clarke's more impressive designs was a wood-and-fabric canard model, which had a box section fuselage, two rubber motors, but a single prop! The November 2002 issue of "Aviation Modeller International / Aero Modeller" contains an excellent article by Mark Croome, profusely illustrated with photos and plans, showing how make a replica of his model.


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