Desert Duster (oz3717)


Desert Duster (oz3717) by Dee Millett 1985 - plan thumbnail

About this Plan

Desert Duster. Radio control 1/4 scale ultralight model.

Quote: "The Desert Duster, by Lee Miller. An unusual quarter-scale subject, a model of a powered ultralight, both designed and built by the same person. It's light, and very slow in the air. Author cautions: flying may cause drowsiness!

After a few flights I began to realize the Desert Duster was nose heavy. More weight was needed in the back. So I decided to add a couple of cans of fuel for ballast. It flew better and I didn't have to hold so much up elevator to fly it. Sitting in the cockpit, it was a real thrill to skim along the ground at a nice, slow speed, with the knowledge that this was one of the first and lightest gas-powered ultralight airplanes to fly. All 106 pounds of it had lifted off the ground with relative ease.

The Desert Duster had been the result of test flying a friend's Wing Ding home-built aircraft. I wanted something that was lighter and slower - and more conventional than most hang gliders designed with an engine. The Desert Duster is a three-axes control ultralight airplane, with a 12-hp go-cart engine. It gross weight is 294 pounds.

Flying the Desert Duster was delightful. It had good control response. My dream had become a reality. May of 1979 was when I originally designed the Desert Duster. At the time of this writing, I am looking forward to adding more power - perhaps to 18 hp. Some other modifications might be added.

The model presented here is a 1/4-scale version of the full-scale Desert Duster. It has a 6-foot wingspan. The scale model is powered by a 15-25 engine. This model is designed to fly realistically. Remember, this is an ultralight aircraft. It can also be powered by a 10- or 15-electric motor of your choice. Six or more models have been made, and the average weight has been from 32 to 45 oz. So beware of your power. As you will note, the construction is of a very light manner. If overpowered, structural damage could occur.

This model can be flown indoors or outdoors. This quarter-scale version is truly an ultralight model. It will give many hours of flying that has not been achieved in a model airplane of this size. This big bird is different. Caution: Flying may cause drowsiness, especially on those lazy Sunday afternoons.

CONSTRUCTION: Care should be given to selection of wood. As noted on the plans, specific grades of wood are used on the wings, tail feathers and fuselage. Construction will begin with the wing. Get a sheet of straight grain 3/32 balsawood. The top portion of the ribs will be cut from this. This will insure that all of the ribs will be of the same firmness. After the plans have been carefully studied, place waxpaper over them. Pin to the building board.

Start by placing the spruce leading edge for similar substitute for hard balsa). Spruce was used in my model to insure strength. Place the 1/4-square spar on the plan and begin putting in the 1/4-square bottom ribs. By the way, 80% of the construction of the original models were put together with cyanoacrylate. The wings were completed and ready for sanding in one evening. Mark where the 1/4-square rib truss is to be glued. It is important for the shape of the rib that they be cut exact and accurately. These are then placed on the lower.

After this has dried, remove work from plans. Important: the wing cannot be completed on a flat surface. So, move the plans and the wing over to the edge of the table so the rib cap strips can hang over the edge of the table, Begin gluing cap strips at the leading edge. Do not bend until they have thoroughly dried. Each rib is to be bent carefully over each rib truss to the rear spar. The end portion of the rib caps should now be handing off the table, Glue all ribs to top of the truss. Check for alignment and true contour. DON'T BUILD TWO RIGHT WING PANELS! The plans will have to be turned over to build both a left and right panel.

After this procedure, the wing is then 4 taken up from the plans, turned upside down and carefully placed back on the plans, pinned and trimmed at the trailing, edge of the rib cap, The 3/32 x 3/16 trailing edge is now glued to each cap. Carefully check true alignment so there will be no warps or built-in wash in or wash out. All other portions of the wings, such as the tips and center sections are now added. Check both panels for alignment and accuracy. Further construction will be mentioned later. Let's build the tail feathers..."

Note main model pic (colour photo) was found online at posted by rahtware, showing his original 1/4 scale, OS 15 powered model, built in the 80s.

Supplementary file notes



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Desert Duster (oz3717) by Dee Millett 1985 - model pic

  • (oz3717)
    Desert Duster
    by Dee Millett
    from Model Builder
    October 1985 
    72in span
    Scale IC R/C Civil
    clean :)
    all formers complete :)
    got article :)
  • Submitted: 24/11/2012
    Filesize: 621KB
    Format: • PDFbitmap
    Credit*: theshadow
    Downloads: 1562

  • NotFound | help

    This is a scale plan, but ScaleType is set as NotFound.

    This happens when we can't find a relevant Wikipedia page to link to. Usually because the type in question is uncommon.

    Corrections? Use the correction form to tell us the new ScaleType link we should be using. Thanks.

Desert Duster (oz3717) by Dee Millett 1985 - pic 003.jpg
Desert Duster (oz3717) by Dee Millett 1985 - pic 004.jpg
Desert Duster (oz3717) by Dee Millett 1985 - pic 005.jpg

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User comments

There's a build thread with photos at by rahtware, looks useful and interesting.
SteveWMD - 24/11/2012
Hi, I wrote the two build articles you referenced in your page on the Desert Duster under the name of rahtware. I have built 4 different DDs and really enjoy their scale like flight characteristics. The Desert Duster from the article is built extremely light and are best flown in calm conditions. Included is a picture of me and my first Desert Duster [pic 005] taken in the early 80's near Philo CA, USA. Thank you, Larry Costa/ rahtware (Real Airplanes Have Two Wings And Round Engines)
Larry Costa - 24/02/2021
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  • Desert Duster (oz3717)
  • Plan File Filesize: 621KB Filename: Desert_Duster-MB-10-85_oz3717.pdf
  • Supplement Filesize: 2573KB Filename: Desert_Duster-MB-10-85_oz3717_article.pdf
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* Credit field

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This model plan (like all plans on Outerzone) is supposedly scaled correctly and supposedly will print out nicely at the right size. But that doesn't always happen. If you are about to start building a model plane using this free plan, you are strongly advised to check the scaling very, very carefully before cutting any balsa wood.


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