Project VTOL


VTOL is an abbreviation for Vertical Take-Off and Landing. VTOL describes fixed-wing aircraft that can lift off vertically. This classification includes only a very few aircraft like helicopters, autogyros, jump jets, and tiltrotors. Helium-filled balloons and airships are not normally considered VTOL. The following project was dedicated to our passion for making a functional VTOL design for the hobbyist using conventional components available at multiple vendors.

The Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey is the first aircraft designed from the ground up to meet the needs of all four U.S. armed services. The tiltrotor aircraft takes off and lands like a helicopter. Once airborne, its engine nacelles can be rotated to convert the aircraft to a turboprop airplane capable of high-speed, high-altitude flight. 

It seems that some people currently working on an Radio Controlled (or R/C) VTOL project are getting hung up on making a functionally true to scale model (like a V22 Osprey) which makes the cost and complexity of the project extremely high. Other successful projects have been contracted by commercial or military organizations where cost is not a major focus. I have also seen successful VTOL projects that end up looking like spiders from outer space. While I suspect that these “spiders” are good low-cost designs, they do not look or fly like a scale plane. My focus will be in making a VTOL design that is a repeatable project for the advanced R/Cer; one that is easy to repair and looks like a real model plane. By using some of the key concepts revealed in this multi-part article, you can create your own VTOL design inspired by your imagination.

Project VTOL

Look for the entire VTOL project review in upcoming issues of AMP'D!

In Part 1 of the series, I select a host plane that is low cost, easy to repair, and, easily modified. The Multiplex Magister ARF was also proven to be a good flyer based upon previous reviews. It was then outfitted with twin Jeti brushless power systems and a single 3-cell, 20C, 5000mAh, LiPo pack. The amount of thrust proved to be more than adequate to easily hover the 6lb airframe. This validated the basic concept and allowed the project to move forward.

Finally, in Part 1, we cover my new wing construction and gyro experimentation in greater detail. Also, the design will be tested to see if the VTOL design still flies like a normal plane using twin motors and weighing a pound over the stock flying weight!

In Part 2, it will be time for the true success test. Will my VTOL design properly transition from hover to flight and back? Will I need to enable the Co-pilot stabilization in addition to the gyros? Assuming my design survives all the testing, what will my final scale appearance emulate? Ray and Kyle Stacy will be helping me to set up the gyros and fly demos for the 2008 season. Kyle recently placed 2nd in the World Heli-Micro competition and 3rd in the Heli-Mini competition. Ray is an AMA Model Aviation columnist and brings decades of experience to Project VTOL.

Stay tuned as VTOL technology takes off in AMP'D only on RCUniverse.com!