MakerPlane open source hardware airplanes

John sez, "MakerPlane is an open source aviation organization which will enable people to build and fly their own safe, high quality, reasonable cost plane using advanced personal manufacturing equipment such as CNC mills and 3D printers. The project will also include open source avionics software to enable state-of-the-art digital flight instruments and display capabilities. Basically we are designing an aircraft that can be built on a CNC mill at home, or at a makerspace which is easy to assemble and quick to build. The plans and instructions will be available for free to anyone that wants them!" | Open Source Aviation (Thanks, John!)


  1. “Did you use open source blueprints and the stress fractures were hidden in them? ”

  2. “Reasonable cost” along with “advanced personal manufacturing equipment” is seriously oxymoronic.  I mean seriously.  That’s like buying a $100k car because it gets 100 mpg.    

    If you want to do seriously low cost and DIY planes, check out the whole world of “foamies” made from Dollar Tree Store foam board and such.  

    Take a look at for a great amateur site, and for a full build log on a plane from a couple of sheets of paper backed foam board.  Other people use blue insulating foam to make them.  I picked up a stack of used sheets from my local Habitat for Humanity store the other day.

    Also check out this thread with 20 how-to videos by a guy who cranks out great flying planes using foam board.

    I made one from the first link this weekend from two old posters someone threw out at work.  Haven’t got the Arduino in it yet (autopilot project) to see how my autopilot code does, but at least I wasn’t out thousands of bucks to buy the equipment or hundreds for a commercial plane.  And if I crash it?  Oh well, I have a stack of more used foam board from work.  And if I don’t want 10 year old industrial presentations on ink cartridge design on them, I’ll stoop to spending a few bucks for a brand new sheet.

    So knock yourselves out  my rich friends, I’ll be making foamies in my garage and not giving a rip if I crash.

    1. That would be a great take down if this guy was talking about model planes. Have another look at the article.

      1. O_o

        /me RT’s the FA instead of just looking at the picture…

        Then boldly declares, “WHY I AM FLYING MY OWN FOAMIES!”

  3. Great. Just what we need. Current planes are safe, in a very relevant part, only because they are professionally driven and serviced. Something that “will enable to build and fly their own safe, high quality plane” any drunk moron and their dog? No thanks.

    I mean, great engineering, lots of interesting byproducts, whatever, but they would only be acceptable if a) getting a _permit_ to fly these things costs at least as much as a regular pilot license and b) owners are forced to go through so many controlled supervised maintenance routines that they don’t have time to fly

    1. You’re ignoring the fact that homebuilt planes exist already.  Not something I knew much about, but I didn’t have to dig too hard:

      Given that people are attempting it anyway, surely it makes sense that someone tries to create a simple gold standard for a home build?

      1. “You’re ignoring the fact that homebuilt planes exist already”

        Yes, and no.

        No, in the sense that I do not ignore it at all. I knew it very well, long before this article, that homebuilt planes existed.

        Yes, in the sense that, practically speaking I could afford to ignore the issue as long as things remained as they are today, with such planes so rare that chances of being hit by one of them are more or less equal to those of being hit by an asteroid.

        It is this becoming a “mass” phaenomenon that is a problem. Creating a “simple gold standard” for homebuilt planes is wonderful… as far as one only looks at the builders. It is the standard for being allowed to drive them over people heads that I care about. Commercial airlines are safe (for society in general, not just their passengers) only because there are quality checks over flight and maintenance crews and procedures that would be really hard and expensive to scale.

        Making much more affordable something so dangerous for _others_ doesn’t make me happy. If one were sure that badly _driven_ planes could only kill their pilots, no problem.

        1. I’m going to go out on a limb here and assert (without checking) that you will need the same license to pilot a homebuilt aircraft as any other aircraft in the same class, because that seems bloody obvious. If I’m wrong then you make an excellent point.

          1. I’ll go out on a limb too. The reasons why I am worried are: 1st, it seems to me that there is no “same class” here. These are smaller, slower etc than “traditional” planes of more or less comparable size. So if their licenses were the same, why should they be (that’s what their pilots would ask, not me)? And if they were not the same, they could only be (much) more relaxed. Otherwise, why bother?

            The second reason is that it’s not just the pilot, but the plane too. To be as safe as commercial planes, these things would need to go through such continuous, strict maintenance procedures and tests that their cost would make owning your own plane unaffordable for almost everybody. Ditto for renting it. If, of course, such checks really had to provide the same confidence levels of commercial planes all made in the same way, with the same standard parts from properly tracked raw materials, by the same “few” well trained people etc… that is much more predictable than garage-made stuff).

            A falling 500 kgs plane will kill me just as a falling Boeing 747 would. But the odds of the second event are decently low just because its enormous maintenance costs are spread over the many thousands of “users” of that one plane.

          2. @mfioretti:disqus 

            Look, yeah. I’m not an expert on the topic, and you are claiming some level of knowledge, so maybe I’m missing something important and I’ll get to learn something today.

            However, the current main project they are working on is a community designed two seat Light Sport Aircraft.

            According to my new friends at, “Light Sport Aircraft” is a very well defined class with its own license requirements and flight restrictions, especially designed to “meet demand from recreational pilots flying small and experimental airplanes”.

            So my ten minutes of research seems to reinforce the idea that an online community dedicated to refining this type of aircraft and sharing plans and specs for them would be great. It seems like an awesome project to me.

            Show me where I’m going wrong.

  4. In the category of Risk Due to Falling Objects, I fail to see how a 1000-pound homebuilt aircraft is seen as more of a threat than an airliner  weighing 350-500 times as much and moving at five times the speed.  

    1. The airliner is less likely to buzz around town showing off after taking off from the end of the cul de sac and 4 beers. 

      lol j/k but consider why cars are regulated strictly despite it being pretty damn easy (at least for me and probably most of boingboing readers) to make something with 4 wheels and capable of 100 mph from pretty much damn near anything. 

  5. In about forty days from now, Cory Doctorow’s latest book “Flyboyzzz” will be released. It’s about a group of anarchic, handsome brilliant amateurs who don’t play by the rules and reinvent aerodynamic laws. Supersonic model planes? Robotic intelligent drones? Cosmic fusion engine stunt planes? Flying cubes? They invent them all, and all with one pre-fab printer in their basement. Nothing ever goes wrong and everything is built in four days. Also they educate the homeless into being aerodynamic engineers in two days of non-classroom learning. Then they save the American economy, defeat Iran and go on to colonize Mars. Then they defeat God in a model plane building contest because they DON’T FOLLOW THE RULES, MAN. And that’s when genius happens. Especially in aerodynamic engineering!

  6. So, so much ignorance here.  Check out  There are around 30,000 FAA-inspected and licensed homebuilt aircraft flying today, you have to have the exact same license(s) to fly a homebuilt as a certificated airplane.   In the last several years, more homebuilts have been licensed than new small airplanes, primarily because of cost (homebuilts are VASTLY cheaper, mostly because of liability premiums on new factory-built planes), also because there is much more variety, versatility and advanced features available in homebuilts (for pretty much the same reason).  There’s probably a local EAA chapter in your medium-to-large city, go to a meeting and check out some cool, safe, and amazing airplanes.

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