All kids, young and old, love making paper airplanes. There always seems to be a competition to see who’s airplane will fly the farthest. There also seems to be disappointment when those planes nosedive right at the start. The search for the way to make the best paper airplane is a popular past-time among kids and adults. There are ways to make your airplane one of the best.

We are going to look at the science – yes, science – that goes into making the best paper airplanes. From the best paper to use to the proper way to throw it. Then, we are going to go step-by-step through the ways to make some of these awesome airplanes. Get ready for some high-flying fun.

What Is the Science behind a Paper Airplane?

hand holding the best paper airplane

To make the best paper airplane, you’re going to use science. Seriously, there are scientific facts that go along with making the best airplane. From the paper you use to the way that you throw it, science is in action. We are going to look at four important scientific facts that will help you make the best paper airplane.

The Paper

You want your paper airplane to fly as far as possible. The kind of paper you use makes a difference. Heavier paper will have your airplane fly farther. Heavy paper that is photocopied on is even better. That’s because the heating process of the photocopier helps to make the paper stiffer. The ink isn’t really ink, it’s actually an incredibly thin layer of plastic. The heat and the plastic will help the paper make a sharper crease and stay that way.

Force and the Center of Gravity

There are two forces that affect how well your paper airplane will fly. They are lift and drag. Lift happens when you throw your paper airplane up into the air, while drag acts like an anchor to pull it back down. You want your airplane to have more lift than drag. If not, it will fall. Making a small, upward bend in the back of the plane helps it gain more speed which makes the tail dip down and the nose tilt up. This helps to create lift. Also, make the wings with a slight bend upward to help keep your plane level.

Weather

You need an empty space that is big enough for your plane to fly, so outside is the best choice. Dry days are best because the humidity is low. The perfect temperature is anywhere between 52 and 62 degrees Fahrenheit. High humidity makes the air thick and your plane cannot fly as far.

How You Throw It

So, you’ve made the best paper airplane you could and you are ready to make it fly. Don’t throw it like a football or a baseball. Throw it like a spear. This will give the most lift and your plane will fly farther.

How to Make the Best Paper Airplane

making the best paper airplane

There are several paper airplane designs that you can make. One of the easiest is the Dart, there is also the Bulldog Dart. If you are looking for a paper airplane that can fly a distance then check out the Stealth. Other interesting designs are the Hammer and the Harrier. They are the most complicated of the airplane designs shown.

The Dart

This is the classic paper airplane that most everyone knows how to make. It takes just six easy steps to make and is a great choice for teaching kids how to make their own paper airplanes.

  • 1
    Fold a sheet of paper in half lengthwise and make sure the crease is sharp.
  • 2
    Unfold the paper and then fold the top corners down to the center line.
  • 3
    Fold in half again.
  • 4
    Fold the wings down so that the edge of the wing lines up with the bottom of the airplane.
  • 5
    Bring the wings out to the sides, level with each other.
  • 6
    You can use double-stick tape to hold the body of the plane together.

The Bulldog Dart

Our second entry in the search for the best paper airplane is the Bulldog Dart. While the first folds are similar to the classic Dart, there are some important differences that set it apart. This plane is heavier in the nose and flies better with an easier throw.

  • 1
    Fold a sheet of paper in half lengthwise and then unfold.
  • 2
    Fold the top corners down to the center line.
  • 3
    Flip the paper over and the corners in towards the center crease again.
  • 4
    Fold the top point down so it meets the spot where the other folds come together.
  • 5
    Fold the plane in half with the folds on the outside.
  • 6
    Fold the wings down so that they make a straight line across the top of the airplane.

The Harrier

The Harrier is also a slightly more difficult airplane. Its stability while flying makes it one of the best paper airplanes.

  • 1
    Fold the paper in half lengthwise.
  • 2
    Unfold and fold the top corners in towards the center crease.
  • 3
    Fold the top down so that it looks like an envelope but leave about a 1/2 inch at the bottom.
  • 4
    Fold the new top corners so that they line up in the middle.
  • 5
    Fold up the small triangle that is sticking out to keep the other folds in place.
  • 6
    Fold in half with the first folds on the outside.
  • 7
    Fold the wings down even with the bottom edge of the airplane.

The Bullnose

This airplane can cover a good distance and is surprisingly fast. This is just a little more complicated than the Dart and the Bulldog Dart.

  • 1
    Fold the top right corner to the left so that you have a fold from the top of the paper to the bottom right corner.
  • 2
    Unfold and repeat the fold from the left side of the paper to the right.
  • 3
    Unfold the paper again, then fold the top right corner over so it lines up with the crease from the first fold.
  • 4
    Repeat the fold from the left side.
  • 5
    Next, fold the top right edge to the crease made in step 3, repeat the fold from the left.
  • 6
    Fold the airplane in half.
  • 7
    Fold the wings down at a slight angle from front to back.

The Bumble

This bee-shaped airplane can stay in flight for a long time.

  • 1
    Fold the paper in half lengthwise.
  • 2
    Unfold and then fold the top corners down to line up with the center crease.
  • 3
    Fold the point down to the folded-in corners.
  • 4
    Fold the top sides to line up with the center.
  • 5
    Fold the top edge 1 inch away from you.
  • 6
    Fold the airplane in half.
  • 7
    Fold the wings down, but leave 1/2 inch at the bottom of the plane.
  • 8
    Use double stick tape to hold the body together.

The Stealth

This paper airplane is made to cover a long distance, making it one of the best paper airplanes. It looks pretty awesome, too.

  • 1
    Fold the paper in half widthwise.
  • 2
    Unfold and then fold each top corner so the edge lines up with the center.
  • 3
    Fold the point down so it is 3/4 inch from the bottom.
  • 4
    Fold both corners into the center line.
  • 5
    Fold the tip over the flaps so that they are locked in place.
  • 6
    Fold the paper in half.
  • 7
    Fold the wings down so that the edge is one inch from the bottom.
  • 8
    Fold up the wings 1/2 inch from the ends.
  • 9
    Cut two slits at the back of each wing and fold the tabs of paper up.
  • 10
    You can use double stick tape to hold the body of the plane together.

The Hammer

This paper airplane requires the most folds. It also flies the farthest of all the paper airplanes we have looked at.

  • 1
    Fold the top right corner of the paper over until the edges line up. Unfold.
  • 2
    Repeat the fold from the top left corner. Unfold, your paper should have an X in it.
  • 3
    Fold the top right corner so that the edge meets the opposite crease.
  • 4
    Fold the top left corner so that the edge meets the opposite crease.
  • 5
    Fold the airplane in half, then unfold it again.
  • 6
    Fold the top down even with the bottom edge.
  • 7
    Fold the top corners down so the points meet in the center.
  • 8
    Unfold, then fold the point up until the edge meets the creases.
  • 9
    Fold the edges in so they line up with the edge of the flap.
  • 10
    Fold the edges of the wings in again along the fold you just made.
  • 11
    Fold the top down so it meets the top of the wing flaps.
  • 12
    Fold the airplane in half with the folds on the outside.
  • 13
    Fold the wings down so the edges line up with the bottom of the plane.

Conclusion 

best paper airplane on a red background

Now that you know how to take pieces of paper and turn them into the best paper airplanes, it’s time to take off and have a good time. Gather up some paper and try your luck with the designs here. Bring a friend along and have some high-flying fun.

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