No one that I know of in recent years has done more to promote model aviation both in person and over the Internet than Darcy Whyte, the designer of the “Squirrel” rubber powered free flight model airplane.
The Squirrel design is so simple yet its’ design is ingenious in that it can be built so quickly and helps novice builders avoid many problems common to other beginner airplanes.
I have never met Darcy in person as he lives far away in Ottawa Canada but we converse regularly via the Internet. Darcy Whyte is a software developer specializing in Social Media and Internet systems, his model aviation website has been a great candidate for experimentation in honing his Internet presence. His website URL is http://www.rubber-power.com.
Darcy has provided most of the pictures for this article and has been wonderful about answering my questions. Please pass the link to this article on to anyone that might be interested.
Bill Kuhl - AMA Cub/Delta Dart website and Scienceguy.org
Squirrel Update 2013 - I thought it was time to update everyone on some of the exciting changes with manufacturing the Squirrel and a prototype of a new plane - Dayton. (Under Construction)
Squirrel kits are now laser-cut this makes for even easier building as everything is cut to perfect length. The picture on the right is of Squirrel kit I had assembled. Checkout this article on How Squirrels are Made
An automated machine Darcy created cuts out the cardboard shipping boxes.
Dayton prototype - Darcy is working on another rubber powered plane that should be even quicker than the
Squirrel to assemble known as the "Dayton".
New Instruction Sheets for Squirrel Darcy has re-done the instruction sheets for the Squirrel you may also download the new instruction sheets from these links: Page #1 Page #2
The Ideas That Became the Squirrel
Middle picture - Darcy experimented with tip dihedral before trying the winglets. Left picture - He tested the winglets
in a sheet balsa plane. Right picture – at this point he was building by pinning to building board but later glued balsa
directly to tissue.
Pictures from the early prototype building.
Left picture –winglet eliminates the need for dihedral, middle picture - center section is flat which makes for easier
building and less breakage. Right picture - a really novel feature that is used with the vertical fin and stabilizer is to use
only a leading edge of balsa and no support for the tissue on the trailing edge, this eliminates at least two additional
pieces of balsa for each surface.
Left picture – popular AMA Cub plane uses dihedral, wing halves angle upward from the center. Middle picture – with
dihedral joint wings often break in the center joint. Right picture – AMA Cub stab requires three pieces of balsa with angle joints.
The website for the Squirrel is a wonderful resource for building information, ordering Squirrel kits, and interesting
information about model aviation.
Building the Squirrel
Left picture – kit components. Middle picture – Darcy delivers Squirrel kits by motorcycle in his local area.
Right picture – a box of Squirrel kits.
Novice builders often have trouble cutting and fitting angled joints but the Squirrel has no angles in the balsa joints.
The Squirrel is built with fast drying craft glue and glue stick which are easy to find, dry relatively fast, and is safe to use.
Flying the Squirrel
Flying the Squirrel indoors
Flying the Squirrel outdoors.
The Groups That Build Squirrels
The Squirrel model plane has been popular with scout groups throughout the world.
Darcy has given speeches to professional groups such as inventors and creative thinkers about design, manufacturing the kits, and marketing.
Left Picture - one of Slater’s happy classes that built Squirrels. Middle Picture – Darcy and Slater’s son build Squirrels.
Right picture – Slater and Darcy.
During the summer of 2009 Darcy visited Slater Harrison who's a school teacher in Pennsylvania who has been
building Squirrel model airplanes as part of his science classes. They met on-line when Slater discovered the
Squirrel design and started to build them with his students.
Left picture - Slater holds a “walk along glider”, glider rides on a wave of air provided by a person walking with a
piece of cardboard. Middle picture – this glider was built almost entirely from paper. Right picture – Slater
prepares to release the glider and begin walking.
Darcy has brought his Squirrel model airplane design before more diverse groups than anyone I know of. He has
managed to combine model airplane building, adult beverages, and socializing to coed groups in the local pubs of Ottawa.
Darcy has been building model airplanes with a variety of groups for many years, in the above pictures he had not
yet perfected his Squirrel design at this session for nursing home group.
Several people have sent Darcy pictures and descriptions of how they have modified the Squirrel design including
biplane versions and Squirrels that are much larger. See website Gallery for further details.
Final Note: Darcy is working on educational materials for teachers.