How to Make a Paper Airplane
Paper airplanes have been around for most people’s childhoods. From sending notes in class, to having contests to see whose plane goes the furthest, this easy craft is fun and scientific. But how do you make the perfect paper airplane? In today’s blog, we attempt to answer that question as well as look into the science behind what makes these aircraft fly.
How to Make a Paper Airplane
Here are our tips for making a successful paper airplane.
The first step is choosing the right material. You want your plane to be big enough that it can take flight, but not so large that it easily loses momentum. An A4 or letter-size harder paper like copy or colour paper is the best material to use. It provides enough durability while still being relatively light.
Type of Paper Airplane
There are different types of airplanes you can choose to fold — each providing unique qualities and construction difficulties.
- The Basic. You’ve probably made this one before as it’s the more common type of plane. It has more “airtime” than other craft in this difficulty.
- Basic Dart. This plane looks the most like a stereotypical paper airplane. Great for going distances.
- The Stable. Rounding off this difficultly, The Stable is the more acrobatic of the easy planes.
All the planes in this difficulty are good at going the distance.
- The Buzz. With a large wing span, this plane stays in the air for a decent amount of time.
- The Sprinter. Looking very similar to an actual airplane, The Sprinter is very acrobatic.
Planes in this difficulty are the hardest to fold but are great at spending more time flying than falling.
- Heavy-Nose. With a lot of weight put in the front, this plane travels a fair distance.
- Gliding Plane. These planes prioritise wing span, making them very acrobatic.
Instructions for a Basic Dart Airplane
Let’s live our airplane aesthetic dreams and make a plane that’s easy to fold and flies a fair distance, too!
- Fold your piece of paper in half. Unfold to show the line that you just created.
- Fold the top corners into the centre line.
- Now fold the top edges to the centre.
- Fold the plane in half.
- Fold the wings down to meet the bottom edge of the planes body.
And voilà! You are now ready to throw.
The Science Behind Paper Airplanes
The reason paper airplanes fly has to do with aerodynamics. That is how the air around you interacts with objects that pass through it. The shape of the paper airplane has to contend with: drag, gravity, forces of lift, and thrust.
- Drag has to do with the wings of the airplane reacting against the movement of the air.
- Gravity is defied with the help of drag.
- Forces of lift, like drag, have to do with the movement of the air in relation to the design of the plane.
- Thrust is the helping push we give the plane to get it in the air.
Try playing around with different folds of plane to see what sort of aerodynamics you can play with!