Build a robust R/C flying-wing airplane
that’s fun to fly and great to learn on.
By Breck Baldwin
The great power of the Towel is that everyone thinks they can
make one — and they’re right. Stupid-simple to build, all it takes is
a spare afternoon, $100 worth of gear, and some DIY chutzpah.
I was flying an early version of the plane that
had met Mother Earth at aggressive velocities
many times. The nose had become a rumpled
shadow of its former self. A fellow pilot, who
was a bit of a smartass, remarked that it
looked like I was trying to launch a wet towel,
and the name stuck.
The Towel is a great-flying airplane that’s
optimized for typical urban flying conditions:
gusty winds, small flying spaces, and rough
landing spots. Unlike store-bought beginner
planes, the Towel has a 1: 1 thrust-to-weight
ratio that makes it highly maneuverable. This
allows it to fly in tight spaces and turbulence.
It can also carry a camera.
Lots of people have learned to fly on the
Towel. Repairs are simple and the airframe
can take a lot of punishment before needing
replacement, which takes minutes. It’s made
from recycled materials and designed to not
seriously hurt people or property.
The Towel’s detachable deck is an innovation in DIY hobby flying. You’ll spend 80% of
your build time on the deck, and only 20%
on the airframe and control surfaces. This
allows for a very desirable property of the
Towel, which is that the airframe can be easily
replaced in that 20% time frame. We can all
thank Mark Harder (aka Splinter) for the
Why the Towel moniker? Back in the day,
We estimate that well over 100 Towels have
been built, by kids and by vastly older kids.
Here’s how you can make one.
SET UP: p. 85 MAKE IT: p. 86 USE IT: p. 94
Breck Baldwin ( email@example.com) lives and
works in Brooklyn, N. Y., trying to populate the sky with interesting objects. He has a Ph. D. in computer science and is the
founder of LingPipe.com and chief scientist at YapMap.com.
82 Make: makezine.com/30