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Stunt Paper Airplane    Distance Paper Airplane    Stable Paper Airplane

Materials Tools
Paper clips

For other activities, see the Activities Chapter.

The 100th anniversary of manned flight is December 17, 2003. Why not honor great invention with a paper airplane contest?

Almost every boy has tried his hand making a paper airplane. They are easy to make and lots of fun to fly. Below are instructions for making several airplanes. There are many other resources on the Internet and in books. Some of my references are listed below. Try making some of the really weird "airplanes."

This is a great activity to use when a meeting goes a little too fast and you need something to fill the time because it only takes a little preparation and some paper. The boys will be able to turn out their own creations with minimal instructions. It could also be a fun activity during a Space Derby, Pinewood Derby, or Rain Gutter Regatta when there is a lull in the action for equipment repairs, ... Just keep a stack up used paper on hand.

Instead of all the chaos that usually results when boys and paper airplanes get involved, why not have a competition? See which plane stays in the air the longest, flies the farthest, is the most acrobatic, looks the best, and is the best decorated. If you have access to a gymnasium consider having a contest where planes are launched gently from the top seats. See which plane glides the straightest, the furthest, or lands closest to the center of the gym.

Show them that by adjusting the right flap up or the left flap down that the plane will turn to the left. Also, adjusting the left flap up or the right flap down that the plane will turn to the right. By adding weight to the nose the glide slope is made steeper and will keep a plane from stalling.

Help them experiment by adjusting the trim of the flaps or adding weight.

Have some nice prizes so the boys are serious about the competition. Discourage the paper ball entry.

Below are instructions for making a simple plane. With a little adjusting it will fly straight and far.

This plane is a little harder to make, but is a lot more exciting to fly. It is very acrobatic. You can make it do loops or turn in a circle. It will also fly for a longer time.

This plane is more difficult to fold and requires some cutting. It is a very stable flyer. It doesn't do well when thrown hard. Back when I was in college, I used to gently launch these from the top seats of a basketball arena. They would frequently glide all the way to the court.

Bottom of Stable Paper Airplane

The tricky part about making this plane is the square cut. Cut to the point where the folded down point intersects the crease made in the prior folds.

And of course you can make a neckerchief slide out of a paper airplane. Use a piece of paper 4 to 5 inches long and 3 to 4 inches wide. Poke a small hole in the body of the airplane and run a small wire through it. Attach the wire to a PVC ring. By using a wire, you can still remove the plane to fly it.

Paper Airplane Neckerchief Slide

Copyright © 2002 Vincent Hale