This iPhone-Controlled Electric Tug Can Pull a Cessna

This Arduino powered tug is designed to pull Cessna 310 aircraft that weighs over 2,268 kg.
Kashyap Vyas
The photo credit line may appear like this1, 2

Now, for just under 1000 bucks, you can pull a Cessna 310 from an aircraft tug that is remote-controlled by an iPhone! Maker Anthony DiPilato, after a couple of failures, a few iterations and a whole lot of self-challenging, gave birth to this iPhone-controlled aircraft tug.

This iPhone-Controlled Electric Tug Can Pull a Cessna
Source: Anthony DiPilato

The Cessna 310 weighs over 2,268 kg., a weight that is too heavy to move or maneuver by using sheer brute force by the help of a towbar. The standard aircraft tugs that you see at airports are too expensive to be mild about it.

This was when Anthony DiPilato figured that it was time to build his very own tow machine.

Owning a plane definitely comes with its set of challenges like the massive cost of fuel, birds and even a propeller sharpener bill. No matter what size your plane is, you always need a vehicle to help you out in order to move the plane.

This is where Anthony DiPilato’s Cessna 310 has come to the rescue! His fascinating journey is even more worthwhile to understand the importance of the final outcome.

This iPhone-Controlled Electric Tug Can Pull a Cessna
Source: Anthony DiPilato

After as many as five iterations, DiPilato came up with a successful design for Cessna that was not crippled by the pressure. Unlike some of the previous versions that came with wheels but were quickly discarded because the vehicle that tracked would need a proper grip on the blacktop.

Interestingly, DiPilato did not miss in learning the important lessons with every failed design.


The inception of the project happened with a 13-inch wheel that was motor-driven and was at the rear of the square tube and had trolley wheels in the front. On the upper front part, two 12V Power batteries had control systems and included Arduino Mega Brains, a circuit breaker, cooling fans, Bluetooth module and an amber light that was placed on the top of the cage.

When DiPilato coded the remote control on the paired iPhone in order to tug over the Bluetooth, he realized that the wheels did not have much power to pull and move Cessna. Therefore, he decided that he would try out another tank track design.

This iPhone-Controlled Electric Tug Can Pull a Cessna
Source: Anthony DiPilato

However, the chains came out and the second test also failed. Without losing hope, he replaced the rollers on either side of the frame and put double rows in order to track in line and also tried to get extra traction by cementing neoprene grips to all the tracks.

This iPhone-Controlled Electric Tug Can Pull a Cessna
Source: Anthony DiPilato

In order to lock the position with the help of electromagnets, a wheel hitch was also installed in the place where the bar is pushed down by Cessna to lift the ramp. This ensured that the position was locked.

Finally, after some more tests and tweaks were made, the aircraft tug was successful in pulling the Cessna from the hangar, and the success of DiPilato was celebrated. This invention is, indeed, a crowning glory, not just in the career of Anthony DiPilato but also for the aircraft industry.

This feat has opened new doors for future aircraft tugs to make life easier and inexpensive.


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