Design literature

It would be folly to try to design a light aircraft without first having a proper grounding in the subject. Many very successful aircraft have been designed by people with no formal qualification in the subject, relying instead on natural mechanical aptitude, a feel for materials, a study of the literature and an enthusiast’s familiarity with existing aircraft and what has worked before. 


LAA supply a range of books which are particularly aimed at amateur designers and we suggest that an investment in a couple of hundred pounds worth of books at the start of the project will be money well spent. It’s a shame to spend perhaps five years of your life and ten, twenty or thirty thousand pounds creating your dreamship only to realise, three quarters of the way through, that you should’ve incorporated a laminar-flow wing, a couple more feet of wingspan or that it would have been better as a ‘tractor’ than a ‘pusher’. Some designs have been almost fully built when the designer has realised that there’s been some fundamental flaw in the stressing and that its either a case of giving up or ‘back to the drawing board’ – all for the sake of an hour or two’s study of the right book.


Below is a list of books that are recommended reading.  All are available from the LAA shop and can be purchased on-line. Note: A more detailed summary of the books' contents may be found on the LAA web site.


The Design of the Aeroplane - Darrol Stinton

Layout, sizing, performance stability and control

Design of Light Aircraft - Richard Hiscocks

Evaluating the loads

Laminar Aircraft Design - Alex Strojnik

Designing for maximum laminar flow

Laminar Aircraft Technologies - Alex Strojnik

Discussing technologies available

Laminar Aircraft Structures - Alex Strojnik

Designing the structure (includes composite structures)

Stress without Tears - Tom Rhodes

Stressing the structure

Simplified Aircraft Design for Homebuilders - Daniel Raymer

Basic aircraft design

Landing Gear Design for Light Aircraft - Ladislao Pazmany

Comprehensive undercarriage design

Aircraft Design Course - Bill Whitney

Folder of course notes and 3 DVDs


Evans Lightplane Designer's Handbook - W S Evans

A really useful compendium of information


Structures - J E Gordon

Properties of different natural and manmade structures