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Ugly Stik

May 05, 2015

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Antonio Carlos Martins' Ugly Stik

Antonio Carlos Martins' Ugly Stik

Antonio Carlos has created a beautiful 14 oz. Ugly Stik using time proven lightweight building techniques.


Airfield Models (

Wing Span: 46"
Chord: 10.5"
Wing Area: 483 square inches
Aspect Ratio: 4.6:1
Weight: 14.2 oz
Wing Loading:  3.3 oz./sq. ft.
Length: 38" from back of propeller to elevator hinge line
Motor: 350 GWS "C"
Speed Controller: Jeti 20
Transmitter: Futaba 6EXA
Receiver: GWS 6cn
Battery: 1,200 mAh Polyquest 2S Li-Poly
Servos (3): Ailerons and Elevator — Way Point Micro
  Rudder — Way Point Midi

Images and text are Copyright Antonio Carlos Martins

The search for beauty

Antonio Carlos Martins' Ugly StikThere are a few things in my life that I love.  One is to design houses as I am an architect.  The other is to create small balsa sculptures in the form of aircraft models.

I believe that it is a shame to cover these small structures with plastic films, but a good color design can provide some emphasis and secret to the small structure.

In fact this is not only a model aircraft but a study of light and strong wood sculptural engineering.  The final proof is the performance of the machine because as a flying machine it must be a good flyer.

My point of view is all things need a set of goals and a concept — perhaps that is the only way to breathe a soul into an inanimate object.  Feeling the wood texture, the smell of glue, the sand paper working, the knife cutting soft wood is a unique pleasure when you work with from your own feelings and the best of your soul.  Create and build small models is to give life, or maintain your self living.

And that's what I like to do — search to produce beauty.

For this quest I chose a model — a very old model named Das Ugly Stik

In fact the Ugly Stik has the appeal of other things ugly — so ugly and so honest that it became to be beautiful.

And this model is a big airport where to fly your ideas and concepts because it is Ugly, because it represents the freedom to create.

Just because it is an Ugly Stik.


The plans

Many years ago in 1967 a genius named Phil Kraft created the first proportional digital radio control equipment.  Traveling in USA by train, Kraft begins sketches on a small piece of paper a model for testing the radio equipment.  He draws something reliable and strong, simple and buildable having no exotic materials - only light balsa and woods.

This model by design must be simple and fast to build and  strong enough to be a test model.  The last item necessitates easy repair. Kraft’s inspiration is a very old  German aircraft called the Eindecker.

No formal drawings were made.  In one day a pair of wing panels are built and the next day the fuselage and tail group.

Upon the first flight at the airfield somebody said, “What an ugly model, and built using sticks!”

The name was borne - Ugly Stik - or to provide a German flavor "Das Ugly Stik".


The Ugly Stik and Me

In Sγo Palo Brazil where I live, the search for model aircraft design has been guided by aesthetic, and at that time, nothing so ugly could survive on a market guided by aircraft models in miniature (scale).

A good friend provided me with the Stik plan.  The model was so bizarre that I decided I must build one.

And it was my best plane ever!!

Antonio Carlos Martins' Ugly Stik37 years later the aircraft model concept changed dramatically.  No more glow engines are allowed in big cities and there is no longer space for large airfields.

As aero-modeling is a type of religion for me, I adapted myself to the new times and I bought a plane named Slow Stik.  This one in fact is very ugly is competing to be the worst replica of the venerable Das Ugly Stik.

But it can be flown anywhere.

One night in my workshop I found a very old paper box.  It was very dusty and full of antique model plans.  Inside of a big roll of paper and plans I found the old Ugly Stik plan.

That night I just couldn't sleep.  The thoughts in my head were racing and remembering the good times that I had with my Ugly and beloved model.  That was a Friday night.

Saturday I woke up early.  My wife could see that I was anxious.  She knew that something must be produced or created.

By the way, building aircraft models is a good escape for the frustrations of my work.  To produce art is a physiological need to an artist.

Suddenly the brain torment was gone and lights were illuminating my head. I strain happiness and a big idea!

I would Redesign the Ugly Stik to be small and light and powered by an electric motor.  The structure would be a sculpture of sticks.

I reduced the original Das Ugly Stik by 25% to begin my model.


The structure

Antonio Carlos Martins' Ugly StikThe Stik wing is perfect.  Only the fuselage and the tail group were changed to be built using balsa sticks in my quest for lightness.

Cutting the wing ribs was a matter of two hours.  They are cut from 1/16” quarter-grain balsa sheets from a special reserve that I keep for special models.

On Sunday I cut the trailing edges and built the spars which are also from balsa 3/16” thick.  Wing assembly with false ribs was a matter of five hours including ailerons and everything sanded ready to be covered.

On Wednesday I decided to build the fuselage and the tail group.  They are very easy to assemble.  All wood is again balsa 3/16” thick both for sheets and sticks.  Building is a matter of cut, put over the plan and add some glue. (AM: If it were only so easy)

The finished structure is covered with Oracover Lite.  The engine, radio and other equipment are installed to ready my Stik for flight.

The final result can be seen in the photos.

Antonio Carlos Martins

Antonio Carlos Martins' Ugly Stik Antonio Carlos Martins' Ugly Stik Antonio Carlos Martins' Ugly Stik Antonio Carlos Martins' Ugly Stik
Antonio Carlos Martins' Ugly Stik Antonio Carlos Martins' Ugly Stik Antonio Carlos Martins' Ugly Stik Antonio Carlos Martins' Ugly Stik
Antonio Carlos Martins' Ugly Stik Antonio Carlos Martins' Ugly Stik Antonio Carlos Martins' Ugly Stik Antonio Carlos Martins' Ugly Stik
Antonio Carlos Martins' Ugly Stik Antonio Carlos Martins' Ugly Stik Antonio Carlos Martins' Ugly Stik  

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