Sripol’s F/A-18 body is made from simple foamcore that he cut and built using plans he found online. There are some structural metal pipes and a plywood panel, and then he’s ready to start integrating the turbine.
With the help of Navy AB1 Caleb Defreitas, an aviation machinist, Sripol solves a critical problem: how not to melt his airplane body. Defreitas considers the materials real planes use and suggests cheesecloth and aluminum foil for the Fun Size Foam-18.
Sripol introduces a full-on disposable oven pan, like you’d see at an outdoor banquet, which he doubles, lines with cheesecloth, and installs on the plane. The body may be foam, but the rest is surprisingly built to last, from the motor itself to the fully electrified and functional flaps and other gear. The next stop is a freshly mowed runway in a field.
“That’s 180,000 RPMs of turbine terror,” says Sripol, while the turbine makes a high-pitched whine in the background. The turbine’s jet wash erupts over the banquet-pan heat shield. “It’s gonna be pretty expensive if it does crash,” he says.
Welcome to experimental aircraft design, my friend. Sripol’s Foam-18 does a great test flight, and honestly, with the right inspirational music and editing, this could pass for B-roll for a low-budget flying flick.
Finally, Sripol loads the Foam-18 onto a truck-mounted, cable-assisted takeoff rig, but the measurements don’t line up quite right this time. Without that, we can’t fully recreate Top Gun in miniature—but it’s still very cool. And most importantly, nothing has melted.
Picture: Screenshot from video