Richard Hamel was watching the 2010 animated film How to Train Your Dragon with his grandchildren when he noticed something odd about the tails of the flying beasts. Hamel, a longtime radio-control plane builder, realized that those appendages resembled an unconventional aircraft design feature known as an inverted V-tail. In lieu of a vertical stabilizer and horizontal rudder, some aircraft rely on two fins arranged in a V shape. "I thought, 'That would actually work,'" he recalls, "and I started wondering if I could make a dragon fly."
Hamel, a Pittsburgh-area plumbing, heating and air-conditioning contractor, has built all types of R/C aircraft but says he prefers working with jet turbines because of their reliability and the sound they make. He bought a JetCat P80 turbine with 22 pounds of thrust and then designed the creature from the inside out. He estimated that a 2.25-liter fuel tank would be enough for a few good flights and added up the weight of the other components he knew he would need—electronics, batteries and custom exhaust pipe.
Once he had determined that the weight would be about 33 pounds, Hamel was able to figure out that he would need 9-foot-wide wings. He used an off-the-shelf airfoil design template for the wings and built a fiberglass prototype that reached over 100 mph in a test flight. But that was too fast—he wanted people to see it when it banked—so he chose a new wing design that slowed it down a bit. The test flight also revealed that the dragon turned too slowly. Hamel had heard that flying dinosaurs used their heads to turn, so he designed a new skull. Now when the dragon's V-tail rudder initiates a turn, its head swings around as well.
Hamel wanted his dragon to be fearsome too. He spent several months designing and laying on the scales, molding the teeth out of urethane, and designing eyes backlit with red LEDs. Of course, without fire a dragon is just a flying lizard, so he added the circuit from a 50,000-volt stun gun he found in his basement at the edge of the beast's jaw, set a nozzle into the back of its mouth, and hooked that to a canister of liquid propane. When the nozzle sprays the propane through the activated circuit, a three-foot blast of red and blue flames shoots out.
Hamel plans to fly the dragon at air shows and parks, and although he designed it to be intimidating, he's also concerned for its safety. "I'm worried somebody is going to take a shot at it."
See how Hamel's dragon works (and see it in action) on the next page.
I'm glad he built it, 'cause I can admire it without spending the 8000$. Ouch.
I know I'm nitpicking here, but I don't see any inverted V-tails, on this aircraft or in the movie dragons. I only see V-tails of the non inverted variety. A V-tail angles up, while an inverted V-tail angles down.
That episode from the graphic novel serie hasn't been translated in English but there is a story with a flying, fire breathing robotic dragon (albeit bigger than this one) which created havoc after being let loose. Here are the two pages.
Blake and Mortimer- Professor Sato's three formulae
Dragons and this home creation is very very COOL!
Lots of descussing about this dragon flying and this article even comes with a video. To bad they never actually show it flying.
When you'll show me a video with it flying ill believe it does, until then its a toy on wheels doing rounds on the asfalt.
democedes is right, that's a v tail, not an inverted v tail. still awesome, but please get your facts straight :)
it is cool but it is questionable that he just made it so it looks like it will fly and it doesnt it just rides on the ground like an rc car
here you go- IT flies.... youtu.be/ENebG492V98
you need the . in youtu.be
May i buy it?
coolest thing i've ever seen! I love it!
Well Done Sir...
About 12 years ago my son ask for help with an art project which had to be made from scrap materials.
I have been building flying things since a boy and once worked for an R/C manufacture so scrap materials consisted of bits of balsa and foam from a cooler. the project started after dinner and was finished about 4 am. balsa wings in a bat like shape using a wwI airfoil attached to a foam carved body our little dragon was born. As i looked at it I had to wonder would it fly. It proved tail heavy but a lone screw lay on the work bench and set in the throat of the beast open jaws was exactly the weight required...from the deck in the predawn light it glided to the rear fence landing without damage.
The next few weeks I was besieged with parents wishing to buy the dragon or at least plans...but it was one of a kind and hung for several years on my sons wall. Sadly vandals broke into our home and the dragon was destroyed. For years I thought about building a larger version and never had time to finish one but since retiring have thought it might be fun, the son now a systems annalist has on occasion challenged me to try again ....he should balk at the 8000 dollar price tag however.
Once again well done.