Stunt pilot hopes to build a vertical-winged airplane


January 24, 2012

Pilot Matthew Tanner is raising funds to build a vertical-winged stunt aircraft, which could be capable of never-before-seen stunts

Pilot Matthew Tanner is raising funds to build a vertical-winged stunt aircraft, which could be capable of never-before-seen stunts

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Matthew Tanner is a Colorado-based air show pilot who also competes in aerobatics competitions and teaches Air Force pilots how to fly. His current stunt aircraft of choice is a Laser Z300. Much as he is able to do with the nimble little airplane, he wants to be able to perform aerial maneuvers that no one has ever seen before. In order to do so, he intends to equip the plane with a pair vertical wings.

More specifically, Tanner's plan is to remove his Z300's existing wooden horizontal wings, replace them with custom models, and then install removable vertical airfoils through the middle of each of those. Everything will be made from the same state-of-the-art carbon fiber used in the construction of the Boeing 787.

He also plans on beefing up the plane's fuselage to withstand the new structural loads that will be placed upon it, along with swapping in a more aerodynamic front cowling (the area immediately behind the propeller) and a more streamlined carbon fiber tail.

With the addition of the second set of wings, he hopes to be able to open up a whole world of new stunts. These could include the ability to perform knife-edge flight (flying with the plane on its side) indefinitely, and to perform a knife-edge aerial loop.

According to Tanner, he and his team have already consulted with structural engineers, aerospace engineers, and aerodynamic experts. The next step is to actually build and install the wings, which he figures should cost about US$75,000. He is currently in the process of raising funds on Kickstarter, with hopes of having his transformed plane in the air by the end of the year.

"We are hoping to inspire non pilots to become pilots, to show people what can be done on our three dimensional canvas - the sky, and to inspire creativity and motivate people to do great things in their lives," he states on his Kickstarter page.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Reminds me of the F-15 concept proposed for the AFTI program.

Since when did Kickstarter become people\'s personal charities? This is getting ridiculous.


Should be interesting to see just how much those verticals destabilize things. Could make life rather interesting especially with a hi hp tail dragger.

I need a new car I wonder if i can figure out how to make that work on kickstarter. I know need to buy a pair of Ferraris one in red and the other in black to see which is the bigger chick magnet. Yup thats gotta be a worthwhile project...


No reason it couldn\'t work, provided that he enlarges the vertical tail to compensate for that extra side-area at the CG.


The P51 Mustang has a verticle component built into it\'s fuselage (look at a front view). Drag and visibility will be issues.


Maybe the tail section would not be necessary if their functions could be incorporated into the vertical and horizontal wings. Just a thought.


I would have gone with a set of vertical canards front and mid-ship. Way less drag and enough directional control to recruit the fuselage as a running surface...


Fun idea, except it won\'t technically be knife-edge stunt flying anymore with those second set of wings. Isn\'t that the challenge of doing knife-edged stunts is the difficulty because of traditional wing placement?

Michael Kamrath

Why doesn\'t he just build a tie fighter like Darth Vader flew? Then he could equip it with some really nifty blasters and seek revenge on the judges at the air shows who think that his new stunts are just a wee bit too passe\'. I\'ve never heard of Kickstarter before, but it seems to me too from the comments that he might be putting it to an improper use. May the force be with him.


Expanded Viewpoint

Matt, you have a good idea for additional control surfaces. How much thought have you put into making some of the leading or trailing edges adjustable ( maybe automatic ) to compensate for unexpected flight characteristics when you start your rotational stunts. Maybe the time in the wind tunnel will give you enough data to finish this design. Great idea, but you may end up controlling with two hands instead of one.

John H

This is nothing \"new\" I\'ve been doing it with model airplanes for more then ten years! works fine... the ONLY problem I see is one of G forces, the human heart can take a lot up and down but not much side to side! He could actually rip his heart loose and die wile pulling side g\'s...


perhaps he has been looking at what the electric powered small radio-control people have been flying for at least half a decade

go google indoor shock flyer

it\'s hardly new, but maybe with plagiarism it can be the next big thing :)


Wow, several great comments. For anyone that does not already know, the fuselage of a plane flying in knife edge functions as the wing, not a particulary good one, but that\'s how it works. I\'ve supported two kickstarter projects, both by heads-up of Gizmag articles. I\'ve looked at many projects on kickstarter I don\'t see this one as any kind of abuse. If you have a bug to contribute to a projects success then put in what coin you feel like. I just now glanced a this kickstarter proposal his rewards seem pretty much in line with other kickstarter proposals. I\'m a bit torn, I\'ve contributed money (very long time ago) to US Aerobatic Team for expenses to compete in Europe World Competition. I had also bought Polo Shirt, models & posters to support Thrust SSC world land speed record car (supersonic) and I\'m thinking about joining 1K club of same groups new 1000 MPH project \"Bloodhound\". It\'s about like \"Carrying coals to Newcastle\" (Newcastle was, maybe still is a coal mine.) Considering most of these people probably spend more money traveling in a year, than I gross in a month.

Dave B13

This modification is just a copy of what radio controlled planes already have. One of mine has this type of mod and yes knife edge flights are great so if he can basically scale it up structurally then it will work. So not an original idea just copying one across to full life.


Many years ago Darryl Stinton, the most famous of all test pilots, and Headmaster, and teacher, at Imperial Test Pilot School, designed an aerobatic aircraft using four massively strong wings set in an X fashion, powered by a humongeous turboprop (a couple of thousand horse power), but found out that the loads on the pilot would be just too great, so the project was scrapped! In case of a powerplant malfunction it would drop like a brick, which this project also would - hope he\'ll install an ejection seat!

Quite a lot of RC airplanes are available with such auxilliary wings, and yes, it has been tried before, by NASA, and others! So mr Tanner\'s project is nothing new under the sun!


I wouldn\'t say flat wings, regardless orientation, are that much of a leap in development. A real challenge and evolution in acrobatics would be a wing shaped like a ring. That bugger would be able to make turns in any direction without rotating first. :-)

Conny Söre

It\'s a solution looking for a problem.

Simply a matter of lift relative to gravity and G forces. The whole basis of 3 axis control is to orientate the craft as required. That\'s why the things are capable of rolling.


I fly like this as a Model, it works!

Peter Haase
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