Float Plane

First published 1st April 2001.

While considering sites for this years summer camp, we were concerned that, with the extraordinary amount of rainfall recently, many of the sites under consideration were inaccessible due to floods. We therefore devised this float plane based on the entrants to the Schneider Trophy races, to make life a little easier.

After construction, but before being used, this project will need to be independently inspected by one of the new amphibious activities advisors being appointed by Scout Counties. Applications should be made using form AF1 available on www.edfoot.com.


We recommend the use of heavy duty bamboo poles, which used to come in the centre of carpet rolls. The cardboard tubes that have replaced bamboo with some manufacturers are unlikely to prove as successful under damp conditions. If you use ordinary light spars these should be fully seasoned to ensure that they are as light a possible.

Main wing:

  • 2 x 4m (12ft) spars
  • 6 x 1.2m (4ft) spars


  • 4 x 2.4m (8ft) spars
  • 4 x 1.8m (6ft) spars
  • 18 x 1.2m (4ft) spars

Tail Plane:

  • 2 x 1.2m (4ft) spars
  • 6 x 0.6m (2ft) spars
  • 1 x 1.8m (6ft) spars
  • 1 plastic pipe Undercarriage
  • 8 x 1.8m (6ft) spars
  • 4 x 1.2m (4ft) spars
  • 6 x polythene 25litre (5gal) drums


  • 2 x 1.8m (6ft) spars
  • 1 small plastic cable drum
  • 2 lengths of very strong wire
  • 8 old lorry inner tubes (available from most tyresuppliers)
  • 1 x 1.0m (3ft) spar
  • 4 small single pulleys
  • 1 x 10m (35ft) light line
  • 1 plastic chair body
  • 1 piece of 20mm thick plywood
  • Heavy duty polythene
  • 4 x 4m (12ft) spars for A frames
  • 4 large oil drums
  • Lashings – lots!


As with normal aeroplane production, this is best tackled by assembling a number of components and bringing them together.

Main wing
This is simply a rectangle made by lashing the 2 x 4m (12ft) and 2 x 1.2m (4ft) spars together.

Construct 2 rectangles using 2 x 2.4m (8ft) and 2 x 1.2m (4ft) spars for each.

Lay one of the rectangles on the ground and lash 1 x 1.2m (4ft) spar vertically at each corner.

Hold the second rectangle over the first and lash it to the vertical 1.2 (4ft) spars.

Attach the sheet of plywood to one end of the cuboid that you have built. Ensure that the hole drilled through the middle of the plywood is towards the bottom.

Lash 4 x 1.2m (4ft) spars around the cuboid approx. 1.5m (5ft) from the plywood end.

Lash the remaining 6 x 1.2m (4ft) spars on top of the lower rectangle between the plywood and the spars in the step above. This forms the floor of the cockpit.

Lash the 1.8m (6ft) spars together to form two pairs of sheer legs, using sheer lashings.

Lash the sheer legs horizontally, one above the other, to the rear of the cuboid.

Form a basic square frame by lashing 4 x 1.8m (6ft) spars together.

Lash 2 more 1.8m (6ft) spars parallel to opposite sides of the square and approx 0.4m (16inches) in from each side.

Attach the polythene drums under the frame, 3 to a side, between these double spars.

Get your team of helpers to lift the fuselage and hold it so that the cockpit is above the undercarriage.

Support the fuselage on some spare long spars resting on an oil drum either side of the construction.

Join the fuselage to the undercarriage by lashing the 4 x 1.2m (4ft) spars between the outside edge of the undercarriage and the bottom level of the fuselage.

Lash the two remaining undercarriage 1.8m (6ft) spars between the rear of the undercarriage and the outer end of the lower pair of sheer legs.

Lash the 1 x 1.8m (6ft) spar vertically between the outer ends of the two pairs of sheer legs. This vertical spar needs to stick up 1.0m (3ft) above the upper end of the sheer legs.

Slide the plastic pipe down over the top of this vertical spar.

Lash 2 x 0.6m (2ft) spars to the plastic pipe so that they extend towards the back.

Lash a further spar vertically between the ends of these two spars to form the rudder.

Form the rear wing by lashing a 1.2m (4ft) spar across and above the upper pair of sheer legs in front of the rudder pivot. Lash a second 1.2m spar parallel to the previous one behind the rudder pivot then join the ends of these two spars with 2 x 0.6m (2ft) spars.

Attachment of main wing
Construct two large A frames. Use these to suspend the main wing above the front of the fuselage and lash 4 x 1.2m (4ft) spars in place between the fuselage and wing.

Lash 2 x 1.8m (6ft) spars together in the centre to form a cross.

Attach one piece of stiff wire through the centre of the square lashing. Pass the other end of the wire through the plastic cable drum and then through the hole in the plywood. Finally, form a large hook with the end of the wire.

Loop the inner tubes together to form a large rubber band.

Pass one end of the rubber band over the hook.

Wind the other piece of wire around the bottom of the rudder pivot and through the opposite end of the rubber band.

Attach cardboard to the 4 ends of the propeller with parcel tape to act as sails.

Lash the 1 x 1.0m (3ft) spar the front cockpit floor spar using a figure of eight lashing.

Middle the 10m (35ft) light line and put a clove hitch on the top of this spar.

Tie two pulleys to the upright spars either side of the front of the fuselage and a further two to either side of the back.

Take the ends of the light line out through the sides of the fuselage, through the pulleys, back towards the tail and through the rear pulleys.

Lash the last 0.6m (2ft) spar across the back of the rudder and at right angles to it.

Attach the ends of the light line to either end of this spar.

Attach a seat in the cockpit.

Finally, clad the plane with polythene.

To download the complete plan and design document please Click Here

Put your phone down and what are you left with? Just teamwork, courage and the skills to succeed.’
Bear Grylls, Chief Scout Bear Grylls