Airplane Whirligig

By definition, a whirligig is intended to catch wind and spin some part of the device. For that simple reason, it seems like anyone that builds whirligigs will have to have an airplane in their repertoire, right?  And not only that, but my father-in-law is a private pilot who has lived a lifetime based around airplanes. And let’s just say he knows a thing or two about the floats that allow an airplane to land on water as well…

So you take that background, and you end up with my next project – a whirligig replica of a Cessna 182 (though I think I missed the mark and made it look more like a 206) on a set of Wipline amphibious 3000 floats.

I did this project slightly different in that I made it a bit more 3D than most whirligigs. For that reason, it’s also quite a bit heavier and bulkier than most whirligigs.

Because of the 3D design and the angles and such of the body of the Cessna and Wipline floats, this project proved to be a bit challenging.  There’s a lot more thinking and math that needs to go into something like this than some of the other projects I’ve done.  The more angles and such the more complex things get and the more you need to think about how it all comes together.  Despite that, the firewood pile out of this project only grew a small amount (but yes, there were some pieces added to that pile…) and I enjoyed the ‘challenge’ to think in angles for a while.


An airplane whirligig is starting to take shape
The body, wings, and floats of an airplane whirligig build as a Father’s Day gift for my father-in-law is taking shape. The squared off pieces of wood have had multiple angles added that start to give the resemblance of an airplane. You can see the plane body is sitting on the floats in this picture. Those will get separated by some wooden dowels to give the proper spacing. Oh yeah, and you’ll notice one critical piece is missing at this time – the propeller… (Is that needed? ha!)
My wife is flying in the airplane whirligig I built for her dad.
My wife is ‘flying in’ the airplane whirligig to her dad on Father’s Day.
My father-in-law receiving his airplane whirligig as a Fathers Day gift.
Her dad seemed pretty happy with the airplane whirligig. He has spent his whole life in the aviation field, flown and owned many airplanes himself, and now he has one that can be parked in his backyard as well.
My father-in-law checking the details of his airplane whirligig.
Seeing as he is an aviation expert and a craftsman himself, he has to check the work and quality of the airplane whirligig I built him. The smile on his face tells me I did alright. Though he was quick to notice that one of the curves on the back of the plane isn’t 100% correct for a Cessna 182…. but it’s pretty close at least.
A close up of the propeller
A close up of the whirligig airplane propeller after a few coats of spar urethane.
The airplane whirligig is all finished and ready to fly out of the hanger
The original plan was to paint the airplane whirligig, complete with an N-number and make it look pretty realistic. But as the project neared completion, someone wiser than me (my wife) recognized that the wood grain looked too good to cover. That is why we choose to stay with the natural look and just coat it with spar urethane. The grain does look really good…
Wooden dowels connect the floats to the airplane body
Here you can see how wooden dowels were used to connect the floats and wings to the body of the airplane whirligig.
The airplane whirligig displayed outside
The whirligig has landed at its destination. It is proudly displayed in my father-in-law’s backyard near his pond.
A closeup of the tail fin and tail wing.
A closeup shot of the tail of the airplane whirligig.
The airplane whirligig
The airplane whirligig is now “flying over” my father-in-laws backyard pond. The American flag is proudly displayed behind it. Another fun project is complete and found a perfect home.