Canarsie Canary Rubber Powered Free Flight Airplane Part 1

Don Ross Canarsie Canary Free Flight

The Canarsie Canary

I mentioned in an earlier post at the summer of 2017 is time for me to learn the ins and outs of rubber powered free flight model planes. To do so I’m starting from square one – the fabulous book by Don Ross titled Rubber Powered Model Airplanes. The first project in the book is the Canarsie Canary, a basic balsa wood design. All that is needed is some balsa wood, a propeller with mount and a loop of airplane rubber.

I purchased the balsa wood from my local hobby shop, the propeller and rubber was ordered from SIG, a popular model plane manufacturer. While I waited for the parts to arrive (and they came within a few days) I started building the balsa wood parts. As you can see it’s not a very complicated design, basically a stick with wings, rudder and stabilizer. The most complicated aspect of the build is setting the wing dihedral, bending the wing tips upward – this adds flight stability.

Rubber Powered Canarsie Canary
Setting the Wing Dihedral

I followed the instructions somewhat diligently. Scotch tape is applied on the top of the wing where the bend will occur. The wing is flipped over and lightly scored to allow the wood to bend, but not break. The wing tips must be folded upward 1 1/4″ and the gap is filled with glue. For precision sake the wings were supported on two stacks of plywood scraps (each stack is a piece of 1/2″ and 3/4″ plywood) 1 1/4″ tall. I used tape to hold everything in place while everything set.

When the remaining parts arrived I assembled the entire plane and gave it a test flight. To my surprise it flew straight and smooth. A few hours later I headed to the local park with plenty of room to give the plane a true test. Before the Canarie Canary can take flight two small rectangles of paper are taped on the wing and rudder. This forces the plane into a gentle left turn.

I’ll be honest, the plane had about ten flights, three of them were somewhat graceful and responded as it should. At times there was a breeze, and some of the adjustments of the plane were not ideal. Suddenly some of the advise that is shared in the book became quite clear. So I’ll be trying out a few modifications and returning to the park soon. I’ll report with more information when it comes to fruition.


  1. Good Day John,
    I would be interested in purchasing your Whirligig kits. ( if still available )
    Please let me know the cost(s)
    Thank You,
    Mike Swanston
    P.S. You have a very cool website

    1. Hello Mike. Thanks for the message, and sorry for the delayed response- somehow I don’t get notified when people send message. It’s been a while since I’ve made and sold the whirligig stuff. I must admit my stuff was the best… but not without taking a toll on every ounce of my spare time. Maybe one day I’ll get back to it. A few times a year I make a bunch of whirligig parts for folks that buy a bulk amount.

      As you can imagine, making the parts is mostly a labor of love – I’m pretty sure I don’t earn minimum wage with the whirligig stuff – buy I enjoy it. I’ll admit it started to be “not fun” because other folks were selling junk on Ebay and then I was getting messages to match or beat those prices… and the fun got zapped out.

      Let me know what your looking for specifically and I may be able to hook you up (when I get my workshop cleaned – we’re doing some home renovations currently). My email is

      Thanks a bunch,

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