First Flights

Copy Paper Squirrel Instructions

The Copy Paper Squirrel is a low cost, rubber powered airplane that flies well and is easier to build than the Delta Dart.   The reason it is easier to build than the Delta Dart because all of the balsa sticks are cut at a ninety degree angle and can be pre-cut to specified lengths so that no fitting of the balsa sticks is required.   The Copy Paper Squirrel also has the advantage that the position of the wing on the fuselage can be adjusted.   The wing is held to the fuselage with a rubber band, thus making it easier to adjust it for balance and make it fly well.   I use the Copy Paper Squirrel as the project which follows mastering making the balsa glider projects and comes before the Delta Dart project.

The original Squirrel was designed by Darcy Whyte.   He has graciously given permission to use the material that he developed for the Squirrel.   His website describing the Squirrel is http://www.rubber-power.com.   The Copy Paper Squirrel was developed for use with the First Flights classes.   The biggest difference is that the Copy Paper Squirrel is built on plans rather than on top of tissue paper.   This makes it easier for younger children to build it.

To build the Copy Paper Squirrel one needs to print the Overview and the Plans.   The plans need to printed full size on 11” x 17” paper.   If the plans are printed out other than full size, the precut balsa strips will not fit properly.


Overview Plans
(Print 11 X 17)


The following materials will be needed for each Copy Paper Squirrel:

Balsa:   The balsa can be purchased from a local hobby store or ordered from Balsa USA (www.balsausa.com).   You can either make the balsa strips by stripping them from a balsa sheet or buy 36-inch long strips.   A razor saw and mitre box work well for cutting the strips to the desired lengths.


Balsa Strip Description Quantity Needed
1/8” x 3/8” x 12” 1
1/8” x 1/8” x 4” 1
1/16” x 3/16” x 2” 7
1/16” x 3/16” x 6” 1
1/16” x 3/16” x 12” 2
1/16” x 1/8” x 12” 1

Number 8 Rubber bands

If you are unable to purchase # 8 rubber bands locally, they can be ordered from Keener Rubber by e-mailing them at sales@keenerrubber.com.   Their AMP crepe rubber bands can be purchased in several different colors.

Propellers

The propellers used for this project can be purchased from the AC Supply Company (www.acsupplyco.com).   The item is: # MID382, 5 1/2” replacement propeller assemblies, 35 pieces.

Rubber Motors

The 3/32 inch wide rubber used for this project can be purchased from AC Supply Company (www.acsupplyco.com).   The item for inside flying is: # AC1701, 3/32” Tan Super Sport Rubber, ½ pound).   For outside flying you may prefer to use 1/8 inch wide rubber strip.   You will need to cut a 21-inch long strip for each model.

Regarding materials that can be purchased locally:

The piece for holding the rubber band to the rear of the Motor Stick can be made by cutting a toothpick in half.   Toothpicks that have a square center section work particularly well for this.

To build the Squirrel I recommend the following supplies and tools:
  • Razor saw and mitre box simplifies cutting the balsa sticks at a ninety degree angle. Further, setting up a “stop” simplifies cutting many pieces to the same length.
  • Building Boards of 1/4-inch Hardboard sheet (i.e. similar to peg board but without the holes) to have a flat surface on which to make the model. Six pieces, 14 Ύ x 11 Ύ inches, can be made from a 2-foot x 4-foot sheet.   These are the same as used by the Delta Dart project.
  • Masking tape – to hold the wing pattern to the Building Board described above
  • Gel pen - these pens are better for marking on balsa
  • Glue stick – washable “lipstick tube” type
  • White glue, Aleene’s Quick Dry Tacky Glue is preferred because it dries quickly
  • Wax paper or similar – for putting a puddle of glue on it
  • Toothpick – for applying the glue from the puddle of glue
  • Sanding block with fine sandpaper
  • Flexible ruler
  • Scissors
  • Modeling knife – with the younger kids it is recommended to use a scissors instead of a modeling knife for cutting out the patterns
  • Magic Markers, optional for decorating the model.   Permanent markers bleed less on the balsa and paper than washable markers.

1. Building the Fuselage

  • a. On the Motor Stick, locate the wing position marks and mark them on the Motor Stick with a gel pen.
  • b. Glue the Wing Seat to the Motor Stick by applying the stick glue to both pieces and then positioning the Wing Seat between the wing position marks on the Motor Stick.   In positioning the Wing Seat on the Motor Stick, the Wing Seat needs to be flush with the top of the Motor Stick.   Placing the Motor Stick upside down on a table top can assist in helping to get the Wing Support flush with the top of the Motor Stick.   Once the Wing Support is in position, lightly press on the Wing Support to get it to adhere to the Motor Stick.
  • c. Cut the Vertical Fin and Horizontal Stabilizer from the plans.   In cutting out these parts, try to keep them as flat as possible (i.e. no wrinkles).
  • d. To make the Vertical Fin, apply the glue stick glue to one side of a of 1/16“ x 3/16” x 2” piece of balsa, place the piece of balsa where indicated on Vertical Fin and press down on the balsa to get it to adhere to the paper.   Note: as shown on the plans, the balsa is to extend beyond the bottom edge of the Vertical Fin.
  • e. To make the Horizontal Stabilizer, apply the glue stick glue to one side of a of 1/16 “ x 3/16” x 6” piece of balsa, locate the piece of balsa on Horizontal Stabilizer and press down on the balsa to get it to adhere to the paper.
  • f. Cut a toothpick in half and then round off the sharp end using sandpaper.

Building the Fuselage,continued

  • g. The Vertical Fin is to be located to the Motor Stick as shown on the plans.   Namely, the back of the Vertical Fin is to be flush with the back edge of the Motor Stick.   The bottom of the Vertical Fin is to be flush or above the bottom of the Motor Stick.   To attach the Vertical Fin to the Motor Stick, glue stick glue is to applied to the rearmost 1 – 2” of the Motor Stick, tacky glue is to be applied with a toothpick to the front of the Vertical Fin (i.e. balsa stick) where it will touch the Motor Stick and then press in place.
  • h. The modified toothpick is to be glued to the front of the Vertical Fin with tacky glue.   The rounded end of the modified toothpick is to point downward and the top of it is to be flush with the top of the Motor Stick.   This modified toothpick is to be coated with tacky glue where it will be in contact with the Vertical Fin or Motor Stick and then be pressed in place.
  • i. The Horizontal Stabilizer is to be glued to the Motor Stick as shown on the plans (the balsa stick is to be underneath the paper). The front of the Horizontal Stabilizer is to be against the back edge of the Vertical Fin and the top of the Horizontal Stabilizer is to be flush with the bottom of the Motor Stick.   To attach the Horizontal Stabilizer to the Motor Stick, glue stick glue is to applied to the rearmost 1 – 2” of the Motor Stick and tacky glue is to be applied with a toothpick to the front of the Horizontal Stabilizer balsa stick where it will touch the Motor Stick and Vertical Stabilizer.   Then press in place with the dashed lines aligned to the Motor Stick.
  • j. Set the fuselage off to the side and let it dry.   One way to do this is to allow the tail to hang over the edge of table.

2. Building the Wing
  • a. Cut the paper Wing pattern from the plans by cutting on the dark line at its perimeter.
  • b. Using the Gell Pen, transfer the 3 wing centerline markings to the other side of the Wing pattern.
  • c. Bend the wing tips up on the fold line and then crease the fold lines.
  • d. Bend the wing top up on the fold line the bend line onto the top of the wing bottom and then crease it at the bend line.  Be careful that these creases are on the bend lines and are straight.   Lining up a ruler on these fold lines will make it easier to accurately locate these folds.   Then, bend these back so that they stick straight up.
  • e. Attach the Wing pattern to the building board with a strip of masking tape at the rear portion of the Wing pattern.   The masking tape must not cover the wing pattern where the balsa sticks will be glued to it.
  • f. The 1/16” x 3/16” balsa strips are to be glued to the Wing as shown on the Wing pattern.   The glue stick glue is to be applied to the balsa wherever it touches the paper.   When gluing the balsa sticks to the vertical paper surfaces it is helpful to use a ruler to support the paper.   Where balsa touches balsa, tacky white glue is to be applied to one of the surfaces with a toothpick.   The balsa sticks are to be glued to Wing Pattern in the following order:
  • 1.) The 1/16” x 3/16” x 12” balsa stick on the leading edge
  • 2.) The three 1/16” x 3/16” x 2” balsa sticks in the middle of the wing
  • 3.) The 1/16” x 3/16” x 12” balsa stick on the trailing edge of the wing
  • 4.) The two 1/16” x 3/16” x 2” balsa sticks in the wing tips
  • 5.) The 1/16” x 1/8” x 12” balsa stick that forms the top of the wing
  • g. To cover the top of the wing, crease the top of the Wing over the leading edge of the wing, apply stick glue to the top of the trailing edge of the wing and then pull the wing top over the top of the wing.   The paper is to be pulled tight with the edge of the paper parallel with the rear of the trailing edge balsa stick (i.e. the more evenly the wing top covering lines up with the trailing edge of the wing the less twist the wing will have and the better this model will fly).   Then press down on the paper to make it adhere to the balsa stick.
  • h. Remove the wing from the building board and trim the excess paper from the trailing edge of the wing.
  • i. The a 2” long piece of 1/16” x 3/16” balsa is to be glued to the center of the bottom of the leading edge of the wing with a glue stick.   Forgetting to install this Wing Shim will cause the completed model to dive down rather than fly level or climb.
3. Assembly of the Copy Paper Squirrel
  • a. Assemble the wing on to the Motor Stick.   Slip a # 10 rubber band over the nose of the Motor Stick.   Place the wing on the top of the Motor Stick, near the front, with the leading edge facing forward.   Pull the rubber band over the top of the wing and under the front of the Motor Stick.   Position the wing so that it is in the middle of the marks on the top of Motor Stick and the marks of the top of the wing are centered on Motor Stick.
  • b. Push the propeller assembly onto the front of the Motor Stick.   It may be necessary to slightly compress the front corners of the Motor Stick to allow the propeller assembly to be installed.   Also, the poropeller shaft is to hang beneath the Motor Stick.
  • c. To form a rubber band motor, tie a knot on the ends of the 21-inch long strip of rubber.   Install the knotted end on the half toothpick and the other end on the eyelet of the propeller assembly.   3/32-inch rubber strip is recommended for indoor flying and 1/8-inch rubber strip for outdoor flying.

4. Flying the Copy Paper Squirrel

  • a. Adjust the position of the wing on the Motor Stick so that when one puts a finger under the middle of each wing tip, the Copy Paper Squirrel balances.
  • b. For the first flight, wind the propeller, by hand, 50 turns.   Hold it between your thumb and index finger, just behind the propeller.   Face the front of the airplane and wind counter-clockwise.
  • c. To launch the Copy Paper Squirrel, hold the model between your thumb and index finger at the middle of the Motor Stick.   Let the propeller go and gently toss the model horizontally.
  • d. If it dives to the ground, move the wing forward.   If it goes high and stalls, slide the wing back.   The reference marks on the top of the Motor Stick are there so that one can tell how far forward or rearward the wing is.
  • e. To keep it from turning, slide the wing out horizontally in the direction that it turned.   The reference mark on the middle of the wing is there so that one can tell how far the wing is shifted.
  • f. When it lands, the wing may move. If so, it will be necessary to again position the wings relative to the reference marks.
  • g. As the Copy Paper Squirrel gets adjusted, increase the number of winds on the propeller by 50 each flight.
  • h. It is better to let the model land itself than to try to catch it out of the air (i.e. you are likely to damage it if you try to catch it).