Giant Big Stik Gets a Makeover

Giant Big Stik Gets a Makeover

When Rick Michelena decided to turn a common ARF into something special, he started with a Great Planes Giant Big Stik and spent less than a week giving it a facelift. Here’s his story.

I needed a good sport airplane, but I still wanted the looks of something different than the run of the mill ARF offerings.

Therefore, using a little imagination, I turned this ARF (almost-ready-to-fly) into something that looks cool and is absolutely different from anything else at our club field to fly. From this point on, the captions will be below the photo.

This ARF will now be known as “Capt. Maddog.”
Model Airplane News - RC Airplane News | Giant Big Stik Gets a Makeover

I have done a lot of fabrication. Therefore, I am providing all the information that someone would need to build his own WWI sport scale fighter.

Model Airplane News - RC Airplane News | Giant Big Stik Gets a Makeover
Changes include wire landing gear, WW I style wheels, pilot, machine gun, cowling, and much more.

The entire article is available on the Model Airplane News Membership site.  Sign up today at the under “Memberships.” The Membership Site also includes access to 27 years of back issues, exclusive videos and much more.

Updated: July 16, 2015 — 4:33 PM


  1. Very nice, learned a lot. Do the rulers work over the wing to help rig the ailerons, especially if it is not symmetric?

  2. Is the wing symetrical? Did you have to make any changes to the wing saddle to get the correct wing incidence?

  3. Very creative & inspiring! Good luck with the maiden. It would be great if you could post video on youtube.

    Happy Landings!!!

  4. Look’s real good better than out of box. It also looks like a EindackerTin Donkey

  5. Very very nice Kevin. Good luck on the test flight. I’m sure this one will fly nice. Post a video of flying with the smoke on.

  6. Sorry ’bout that Rick. I put the wrong name on the reply.

  7. A wonderful idea and great execution! I do have a few questions. No mention was made of the wing. Are any mods required to the wing or wing mounting? What about the wing incidence? Is the wing removable or fixed? I have searched, and looked in the manual, but found nothing regarding the wing mounting on that model. The forward end of the saddle appears to be vertical on the fuselage yet in photos with the wing mounted it seems to be faired over the wing. What’s with that?

  8. Hi Rick , have had a Stick one kind or another since forever…. What you have done is really a big leap into the fun enjoyable side of modeling …. Hope is flys great, fingers crossed for initial flights.
    Seeing you were so generous with your time detailing the steps…. Well I’m just going to do something along the fun lines that you have!!!
    My last stick was mid-aired…. By another stick!!!!

  9. Hey guys, I’m Rick who built this bird. I will try and answer all question in the order I read them. However, I will update you and tell you that this bird flies fantastic. Long wood yardsticks can be used on symetrical wings. I use foam A/C insulation tape. It comes in a roll and can be purchased at any A/C supplu store. It has a number of uses such as fuel tanks, receivers, and padding wood so wires will not chaff.

    As far as the wing, simply turn the fuse upside down. There are no modification required. Even the stock wing dowels will work as originally located.

    I did join the wing into one piece. Stock servo position works, but you will have to run the wires out the old bottom of the wing which is really the new top of the wing….more in a minute

    1. Not sure if this thread is still active, but I been busting my brains out trying to figure out 2 things about this plane. Where did the guns come from and how the cowl was make? Went to Walmart but cannot fine cowl. Any help on this will be greatly appreciated…Thanks

  10. Hi Rick. Member18822 back again. I finally figured out the wing mounting. I missed the picture in the manual of the fuselage-wide notch and the mounting dowels in the leading edge.

    Since the wing is symmetrical and the your servos are still on the bottom I take it you just flipped the fuselage over and used the wing the same side up as it would have been normally? The Great Planes technical info page shows half of a degree incidence for that model. I would expect it to be -.5 degree now unless you have changed something. Let us know if it is noticeable.

    Love the landing gear. Looks great. Thanks for the idea. I will do that with the original Jensen Ugly Stick I will soon be finishing. That will allow me build it slightly taller so I can use a bit larger prop (it’ll be electric powered). And I will be looking for a similar, but smaller ‘cowling’. It really looks good with the power under cover!

  11. I did the same on my Giant Stik and it looks great in a civilian yellow starburst finish on top. I would share it with you if I know how to attach the photo to this reply. Mine has a DLE 30 gas engine and flies great.

  12. Hey guys,

    It’s Rick again. Here’s some more information about the airplane. I had a friend who showed up at the field with a Big Stik. I put the “maiden” flight on her in 30 MPH wind. As everyone knows the original stik design has always been a good flyer. I studied his wing, noted that it was symetrical, and thought to myself: this would be easy to do as a “low winger.”

    I have been in R/C since 1982 and it started with a subscription to MAN…I used an old Quadra 52 that I had laying around. I added a Bennett Smoke system and Hitec 645 metal gear servos. I use a Spektrum DX8 on DSM2. I always use two switches and two batteries for all my birds.

    The test flight was perfect. I balanced the model and the TEST flight it did not require any TRIM. It is so easy to fly and lands at a very low speed with only 15 degress of not use more than this or the model will climb upon FLAP deployment. I added a scarf that I cut from the arm sleeve band of an old white T-shirt…it looks great flaping in the wind.

    I’ll be glad to answer any further questions.

    1. Hi Rick, great job and fantastic idea, what diameter vintage wheels did you use

    2. Hi Rick, I have been trying to find the article for the capt maddog but having a hard time. Can you send me the article of tell me how to find it, I have looked all over modelairplane news but no luck.

    3. Any ideas on making a 101″ Bud Norsen wing kit 2pc. for ease of transporting in a regular SUV. Maybe flat w/no dih.

  13. Hi Debra! I have the honor to witness Rick in action when building RC planes and iI have to tell you he is the best. This is just one of the many projects that he had shared with me over the years. I highly recomend rick for a project of the month because he has many to share. He is a great writer and when it comes to details he will describe step by step with excellent pictures. I am a member of your magazine and would love to see future articles from Rick.

  14. Rick:
    Which plastic bowl did you buy at Walmart? What brand was it? Also, how did you match the paint on the cowl to the monokote? What brand and what shade of paint did you buy?

  15. Rick:
    Would Sal’s Vinyl Graphics make another set of the Das Low Stik decals for a reasonable price? I’m not in the same state, but maybe he could ship them to me.


  16. Which plastic bowl (brand and kind) did you buy at Walmart for the cowling?

    What brand and shade of red paint did you use to match the monokote when you painted the cowl?

  17. Dear William,

    The bowl was a Sterlite….look at the container in the original picture…it has a green tab on it….as far as the paint….it is Krylon Cherry Red…I’ll talk with Sal…he usually saves all my work request….remember these decals are for a giant stik and would not fit on a smaller version.

  18. I did find the container at Walmart. I could probably make the lettering by hand, but it would be great if Sal could make me a set.
    I’d like to get my own giant big stik and do the same modifications you did. It really changed the plane’s appearance, and it’s a way to have something unique, rather than having the same old thing everyone else has.


  19. William,

    Sal’s business number is 956-787-4949…the bowl was found in the kitchen plastics area.

  20. Rick, I can’t figure out your gear bracing. Is it wire? It appears to have a twist to it.

  21. I have tried back issues, I have searched the site and still cannot find the entire article on Giant Big Stik Gets a Makeover . Can you please send me the URL where I can read it.


    John Doyle

    1. Hi John, this has been moved to our membership site. For more info on membership, go to Hope this helps.

    2. Not sure if this thread is still active, but I been busting my brains out trying to figure out 2 things about this plane. Where did the guns come from and how the cowl was make? Went to Walmart but cannot fine cowl. Any help on this will be greatly appreciated…Thanks

  22. Ok how much I have there giant sticks there cool . O yes i Canadian $$ love These planes

  23. would like to convert a Giant Big Stik to the “Capt. Maddog” version. Unfortunately I am unable to find the article where Rick describes the changes. Can someone help this old man?
    It would be appreciated.
    Paul LeDoux

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