WARNING AND DISCLAIMER:  If you are underage, then consult with your parents or guardians before attempting any of this.  You are on your own - I'm not responsible for your actions or harm you may bring to others because of your actions.  Making the items described below  can result in injury or death to you or people in your vicinity. Some things mentioned here may be illegal to make in your city, county, state, or country so check the laws that apply to you before you attempt anything described here. These notes are not complete on purpose. If you are reading them and new to pyrotechnics, then you are making a mistake. Stop now - this page is not for you. Get a beginning book on fireworks (see Skylighter or American Fireworks News (very quick shipping)  for a start) and read up. You can't make any of this work without more information so read up or join a club or ask someone to help you.


Monocopters are an older invention that are a cross between a girandola and a tourbillion. They are very simple to make and the design below is a modification of one of Applewhite's designs.  It uses 12" paint sticks available from any paint store.  Get good ones if you can find them - the best are made from bamboo.  The last image on this web page has a movie of one flying.  Just click on it and you are ready to go.

These use Estes engines - any size motors from A to C.  By far, the cheapest way to make them is to make your own motors. If you have the tooling and BP, then make some 1/2" end burners that are about 3" long.  Use a 1/8" nozzle opening for them.  (more to come on how to make the motors - to be added)


Here is what we're going to make.

A 12" paint stick starts the show.

Soak a few in water for a few hours.  I heat mine up in the dishwasher or oven.


Bend the sticks so they have a 90 degree twist. Picture above is one way to do it. Let them dry in that position and they will retain their shape. If you are making several like in the picture above, it will take a few days for them to dry.  A single one will dry overnight.

You can also rig up a frame to dry them. Just cut a long horizontal groove in one side of the frame and 90 degree cuts on the top as in the above example.  In some configurations, you may find that more than 90 degrees is needed (especially for dual engine copters) and in others a 67 degree angle makes a nicer effect.  Just adjust the cuts accordingly. There are many ways to get the job done.

While you are waiting for the paint sticks to dry, make a launcher of some sort. The above one is a 2x4 on a 2x8 with a 1/4" SS bolt in the top. The top ends are beveled so they don't interfere with the dola/monocopter.  The specification for this monocopter expects a 1/4" launch bolt.


On the handle end, drill two 5/32 holes and cover the end with tape. I use aluminum tape.

About 3" down the handle, drill a hole and hot glue in a piece of 9/32 brass tubing. The tubing should be about 3/4" long.  Glue on a fly back stick about 5" long just on the other side of the tubing. Tie the fly back stick on with some string to make it even sturdier.

On the handle end of the stick, hot glue an Estes A, B, or C motor or make your own 1/2" motor about 3" long and mount it. Tie the motor on using the holes we made.  The tape will let you take the motor off and put a fresh one on.  Your monocopter is reusable!


On the opposite end of the stick, put a counter weight. I use a penny on each side.  This is somewhat optional but it results in a nice flight if you do it.


Here are several versions ready to be tested.  Click on the above image and see one like we just made fly.