Retractable LEGO Wheels

Designing airplanes for the future

Robert McKeon Aloe
4 min readMar 14, 2021

When I was a young boy, I loved building Lego airplanes. However, I didn’t like that wheels couldn’t retract. I made my first design of retractable wheels when I was 10, but it wasn’t perfect. You could still see the wheels outside the fusalage. Thus an obsession began to design the best retractable wheels.

In 11th grade, I focused on the problem. I was going to build the wheel set and then build a plane around that wheel set.

I went back and forth on designs, but I was often stuck on footprint of the wheel well. I could reduce the length, but the width would have to increase.

So I settled on a design that may have been a bit longer, it worked and was stable for actual play rather than just on the shelf. Even though I was in high school at the time, I still wanted to fly my plane around the house. I still do today.

Some years later, I got the Space Shuttle as a gift.

I loved it, and it lined up nice with my huge moon rocket.

However, I was disappointed in the wheels.

The back wheels retracted, but the front didn’t. So I used my previous design, and I modified the Shuttle.

The wheel was a bit fragile in transition, but afterwards, it performed well even for play.

I also took the liberty to expand the crew module to go from one to two people.

I love playing with Legos. They taught me so much about resource constrained engineering and design.



Robert McKeon Aloe

I’m in love with my Wife, my Kids, Espresso, Data Science, tomatoes, cooking, engineering, talking, family, Paris, and Italy, not necessarily in that order.