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Newcomers Welcome!

Here's some stuff to help you get started as soon as I can get it typed up and illustrated. I'm going to upload and update here in the order you see it.

1. Model Aircraft Terminology
2. Tools
3. Glues and Adhesives
4. Plans
5. Woods and Materials
6. Assembly Techniques
7. Covering and Finishing
8. Props and Rubber
9. Flight Support Equipment
10. Trimming and Flying

1. Model Aircraft Terminology

We'll start by describing the main parts of an airplane. This will set the foundation for all of the reading and talking you'll be doing for a long time to come. I'm going to assume at this point that you don't know anything and work from a simple traditional aircraft. If I throw out a word that I haven’t covered or you don't understand, go to the glossary page. You may notice that some of the terminology for aircraft was borrowed from other activities.

The primary lifting part of the airplane is the wing. The wing is attached to the body of the airplane otherwise known as the fuselage. Aircraft have stabilizing surfaces either at the front or at the rear of the fuselage. In our simple case, the stabilizers are at the rear of the plane attached to the fuselage. There is the horizontal stabilizer and the vertical stabilizer. Airplanes need to move around on the ground or taxi, as well as have a way to take off and land, so they usually have landing gear for those purposes. At the front of the fuselage is the engine and propeller. The engine drives the propeller providing the necessary thrust to force the plane forward.

Wings are made up of a leading edge, trailing edge, and spars that run the length of the wing from the root at the center of the wing to the wing tips. Between the leading and trailing edges are ribs which have the characteristic airfoil shape that generates lift. The rib located nearest to the center of the wing is usually called the root rib and the rib farthest out on the wing is called the tip rib. The width of the wing at each rib location is called the chord. Wings that have no taper from root to tip are called constant chord wings and those with a taper are called tapered wings. There are also elliptical profile wings whereby the leading and trailing edges are elliptical shapes blending into a nice rounded tip. Sweep describes the angle made by the wing either forward or back relative to the fuselage. Ribs have a feature called camber which is the curvature inherent in the rib from leading edge to trailing edge. Airfoils have been grouped based on the camber characteristic and fall into symmetrical, semi-symmetrical, flat bottom, and undercamber types. On a symmetrical airfoil, the camber line is straight, indicating no curvature. The remaining airfoils have curvature increasing from semi-symmetrical to undercamber. Ribs also have a characteristic called thickness which is usually a percentage of the chord length. Connecting the ribs between the leading and trailing edges are spars. There can be more than one and they don't always have to run the entire length of the wing. A simple wing will have ailerons, which are smaller portions of the wing at the outboard that are hinged to provide control for the airplane's wings. More complicated wings will have flaps, slats, and/or spoilers. We'll get talk about those later.

The horizontal stabilizer is usually composed of two parts, the fixed stabilizer or stab and the moveable elevator. The vertical stabilizer is composed of the fixed fin and the moveable rudder. The fuselage has an upper or dorsal side and a lower or ventral side. Fixed stabilizer surfaces attached to the top are sometimes called dorsal fins and bottom fins are called ventral fins to distinguish what side of the fuselage they are on. Stabilizers are made up of leading and trailing edges, spars and ribs much like wings. Stabilizers generally have symmetrical airfoils but the horizontal tails have been known to have cambered airfoils and are then referred to as “lifting tails”.

The fuselage is composed of main forward and aft members called longerons. These are attached to formers that define the shape of the fuselage along it's length. Smaller fore and aft pieces may be added called stringers that help to further smooth out or define the fuselage cross section. Formers that are designed to carry primary loads where main structure is attached are called bulkheads. Typically, wings, landing gear, and engines attach to bulkheads. The bulkhead that attaches the engine to the fuselage is called the firewall bulkhead or just firewall.

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