Scratch Building a Model Glider

Edinburgh is perfect for slope soaring. I have been flying traditional R/C models here for years and have always cursed the amount of wind we have. Gliders however operate well in these conditions. I used my experience of gliding, R/C flying and some new building techniques learned from an earlier project to make a cheap model glider.

I have always had a soft spot for the old wooden Slingsby gliders so I chose the Slingsby Swallow because of its simple and elegant shape.


I began by taking some plans found on the internet and transferring them to squared paper. These were then scaled up on squared paper to A1 size.

The airframe was built from three sheets of 5mm thick foam board from Hobby Craft. I used hot glue and tape to join the parts. To learn more about these building techniques and materials I highly recommend looking at

The parts used were:

The parts minus radio and tools should be less than £50.00. The wingspan is about 1700mm, I don’t have proper scales but estimate the weight to be around 5-600 grams. These figures give a low wing loading required for good gliding performance. This website provides a useful calculator for working out the wing loading of a model

The nose was carved from blue styrene foam. It is great for absorbing crash impacts.  The wings are held to the fuselage with rubber bands. I used two 5mm dowels as latching points for the bands and 16 2 pence coins to get the balance correct.

After a few sketchy test flights I managed to get the model correctly set up. My initial flights proved the durability of foam board models! I added some winglets to the design to aid stability. My first proper slope flight was from Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh where a good stable westerly wind flow gave ample lift. Check out the video below, flight footage starts at 0:50. The model could be refined and more details added to make it look more realistic. For now though I’m happy to just try and learn the basics and perfect my landing technique.



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