Introducing!...Medicine Man

The Minute Man model airplane This is the kit that is being produced in conjunction with the Make magazine construction article. "Why buy the kit if one can download the plans?", you may ask. Answers: 1) Convenience. The first frustrating step--transferring the images of the kit parts on to the wood--has been done for you. 2) Quality. The wood itself, being organic, can vary greatly in density and grain direction. I have carefully selected and tested the wood that goes into every kit in a three-step process to ensure nothing but appropriate materials go into your airframe. 3) Economy. All this for substatially less than what you'd pay retail for the required material, plus you don't have to blow a Saturday running all over town to find it!

*See Products page for more details and ordering information.

About RealKits:

Minute Man model airplaneRealKits came to be as I realized there was an entire generation of modelers growing up who had never actually built a model.

When I put away my X-Acto knife in the late 1990s to pursue a career in full-scale aviation, a rather unlikely change occurred while I was absent…the pre-finished ‘Almost Ready to Fly’ (ARF) models had come to dominate the R/C scene. When I finished my flight training and requisite years of yeoman service as a flight instructor and returned to the hobby, virtually the entire range of actual model kits had vanished from the hobby store shelves, available only at grossly inflated prices on eBay and flea markets. The breaking point came when I brought my set of plans for a model I was scratchbuilding to the local hobby store to gather my materials and the owner gave me a cockeyed look.

“You’re building that?”

“Oh…yes…I actually engineered it, too. It’s a 1930s Douglas Dolphin amphibian…there’s no kit, you know…I got a copy of factory drawings of the real thing from a retired Douglas employee…see here…and got my calculator and straightedge and drew up about a six- foot-span model…it’s really pretty easy when you get going…”

“Okay…dork. No one builds anymore.” He glowered at me like I’d just tried to sell him on the virtues of alchemy. Visions of the “Water? Like from the toilet?” scene in the movie Idiocracy danced in my head.

Flying a model airplaneA few years later, a friend of mine who happens to be one of the editors of MAKE magazine, contacted me to write an article for an issue dedicated to "lost knowledge" (Click here to see the article). He wanted me to come up with a piece describing to the absolute neophyte how to build a model airplane. As I developed my ideas, however, I realized that there was no existing model airplane kit widely available which would be suitable for the project. Drawing on my memories of starting the hobby as a 12-year-old with a simple two-channel glider I designed Medicine Man, a sailplane simple enough to serve as a satisfying first project for a beginner and sporty enough to be the experienced flier’s handy little ship kept at the ready in the trunk.

With the concept started, I felt the would-be builder would be given a helpful boost with the availability of a printed kit to go with the article’s set of plans, to spare the newbie the tedious (and often frustrating) task of actually transferring the images of the kit parts from the plans on to the wood itself. However, the technology to do so in a small production-line setting is simple and inexpensive, and opened up the possibility of putting classic, ‘lost’ models back into the scene. And fresh new subjects, too. With a fetching name dreamed up by my teenage niece, RealKits was born!