some shoulders and parachute straps. Other planes would
have the pilot seated much lower, with just the top of the
pilot’s head showing. Compare the pilot’s position with
the framework and canopy to see what will be appropriate
for your airplane.
With a good idea of how the pilot should look in
the cockpit, you can now properly position your pilot
figure. Start by bending the figure naturally at the waist,
just below the jacket, and seat the figure sitting on its
parachute pack. Based on this basic seated position,
there will be three results for the first test fit. The figure
will either sit too low, too high, or just about right. If the
figure fits just right, congratulations! Now secure your
pilot, attach the canopy and go flying! But if it needs
adjustment, this is pretty easy to address.
A quick way to lower a figure
that’s too tall for its cockpit
is to remove the padding out
of its parachute pack.
Left to right: Here, the pilot is sitting with a natural bend at the waist. n For a lower position, the pilot has been bent higher slightly above the hips. n For a much lower position, the figure
has been bent even higher above the hips just at the bottom of its flight jacket. As you can see, this increases the length of the legs.
The height of the pilot is even more evident with vintage W W I open-cockpit biplanes. This 1/3-scale WW I
pilot is sitting just about perfectly for this Nieuport.
For a pilot that’s sitting too high, the first adjustment
can be made by simply removing the parachute pack or
removing its filling. This will lower the pilot an inch. If the
figure is still sitting too high, you can then straighten the
figure and rebend it higher up above the waist. As you can
see in the photo, this will allow the figure to sit another
inch lower in the seat.
With the lower seated height, you may find your figure
with extra-long legs. This is no issue; either put the legs
under the instrument panel, or remove the boots and fold
the legs under. A more drastic solution is to use a pair of
scissors and cut the legs to the desired length to fit under
the instrument panel. I prefer to just fold them under so
that the figure’s integrity is preserved.
Securing the pilot within the cockpit is also important;
we don’t want the it rattling around during flight. A quick
and easy way to secure the figure is to drill two small holes
in the seat (one on each side of the figure), wrap a zip tie
around the figure’s waist like a seatbelt, then secure the
figure to the back of the seat with a small piece of Velcro
double-sided tape. Before reattaching the canopy, bend
and adjust the pilot’s arms and hands so that one hand is
holding the joystick and the other hand is on the throttle.
A small dab of glue will secure their positions. It is also
good to position the pilot’s head so that the figure is not
just looking straight ahead. If you turn its head so that it
is looking slightly to the left or right, the pose will look
How to Scale Pilot FigureS 101