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?
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
- 1Fold a sheet of paper in half lengthwise and make sure the crease is sharp.
- 2Unfold the paper and then fold the top corners down to the center line.
- 3Fold in half again.
- 4Fold the wings down so that the edge of the wing lines up with the bottom of the airplane.
- 5Bring the wings out to the sides, level with each other.
- 6You 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.
- 1Fold a sheet of paper in half lengthwise and then unfold.
- 2Fold the top corners down to the center line.
- 3Flip the paper over and the corners in towards the center crease again.
- 4Fold the top point down so it meets the spot where the other folds come together.
- 5Fold the plane in half with the folds on the outside.
- 6Fold the wings down so that they make a straight line across the top of the airplane.
The Harrier is also a slightly more difficult airplane. Its stability while flying makes it one of the best paper airplanes.
- 1Fold the paper in half lengthwise.
- 2Unfold and fold the top corners in towards the center crease.
- 3Fold the top down so that it looks like an envelope but leave about a 1/2 inch at the bottom.
- 4Fold the new top corners so that they line up in the middle.
- 5Fold up the small triangle that is sticking out to keep the other folds in place.
- 6Fold in half with the first folds on the outside.
- 7Fold the wings down even with the bottom edge of the airplane.
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.
- 1Fold the top right corner to the left so that you have a fold from the top of the paper to the bottom right corner.
- 2Unfold and repeat the fold from the left side of the paper to the right.
- 3Unfold the paper again, then fold the top right corner over so it lines up with the crease from the first fold.
- 4Repeat the fold from the left side.
- 5Next, fold the top right edge to the crease made in step 3, repeat the fold from the left.
- 6Fold the airplane in half.
- 7Fold the wings down at a slight angle from front to back.
This bee-shaped airplane can stay in flight for a long time.
- 1Fold the paper in half lengthwise.
- 2Unfold and then fold the top corners down to line up with the center crease.
- 3Fold the point down to the folded-in corners.
- 4Fold the top sides to line up with the center.
- 5Fold the top edge 1 inch away from you.
- 6Fold the airplane in half.
- 7Fold the wings down, but leave 1/2 inch at the bottom of the plane.
- 8Use double stick tape to hold the body together.
This paper airplane is made to cover a long distance, making it one of the best paper airplanes. It looks pretty awesome, too.
- 1Fold the paper in half widthwise.
- 2Unfold and then fold each top corner so the edge lines up with the center.
- 3Fold the point down so it is 3/4 inch from the bottom.
- 4Fold both corners into the center line.
- 5Fold the tip over the flaps so that they are locked in place.
- 6Fold the paper in half.
- 7Fold the wings down so that the edge is one inch from the bottom.
- 8Fold up the wings 1/2 inch from the ends.
- 9Cut two slits at the back of each wing and fold the tabs of paper up.
- 10You can use double stick tape to hold the body of the plane together.
This paper airplane requires the most folds. It also flies the farthest of all the paper airplanes we have looked at.
- 1Fold the top right corner of the paper over until the edges line up. Unfold.
- 2Repeat the fold from the top left corner. Unfold, your paper should have an X in it.
- 3Fold the top right corner so that the edge meets the opposite crease.
- 4Fold the top left corner so that the edge meets the opposite crease.
- 5Fold the airplane in half, then unfold it again.
- 6Fold the top down even with the bottom edge.
- 7Fold the top corners down so the points meet in the center.
- 8Unfold, then fold the point up until the edge meets the creases.
- 9Fold the edges in so they line up with the edge of the flap.
- 10Fold the edges of the wings in again along the fold you just made.
- 11Fold the top down so it meets the top of the wing flaps.
- 12Fold the airplane in half with the folds on the outside.
- 13Fold the wings down so the edges line up with the bottom of the plane.
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.