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After years of assisting builders with the Vision aircraft Steve Rahm developed an idea to adapt a method of using flat composite panels to create a fuselage.  The technique had been used successfully in the race car industry for years, though from his experience no one had adapted its use to aviation.  He wrote an article and it was published in the December 2002 issue of Experimenter magazine.  This unique method uses smaller individual flat composite panels that are eventually combined to form larger structures such as a fuselage, turtle deck or seat.


Example of Fold-a-Plane parts


In manufacturing, individual parts are vacuum bagged so that joggles and smooth exterior surfaces are formed.  Where the panels are to remain flat such as a side wall or a floor the interior side of the panel is fiberglassed which lock in the flat sections. 


Interior sections of the panels that will eventually have a radius are intentionally left un-glassed. The individual parts are shipped in UPS acceptable or equivalent sized boxes.  The homebuilder then bonds the smaller panels together with Bi-directional fiberglass to create a large flat panel.  After creating a simple jig, the larger panels are placed into the jig and temporarily secured.  The folded panels create consistent radius corners where the interior side had been left un-glassed. The smaller interior sections of the exposed core material are then fiberglassed to lock in the radius.



Fold-a-Plane parts have three major advantages

  • Smooth exterior surfaces and uniform shapes and strength just like molded composite parts.

  • Reduced shipping costs.

  • Can be easily modified without major tooling costs normally associated molded parts.