Don’t know how to make paper airplanes? Well, you just missed half your childhood (hey, it’s a good first lesson on the humble beginnings of flight and basic aerodynamics, after all).
In this article:
- Paper Airplanes as a Life Skill
- How to Build the Bulldog Dart
- How to Build the Harrier Plane
- How to Build the Hammer Plane
How to Make Paper Airplanes: Helpful Tips and Techniques
Paper Airplanes as a Life Skill
But learning how to make paper airplanes is not consistent across the board. Many of us have been taught to build paper airplanes that take a sad nosedive the second we toss it.
A paper airplane is a great life skill to teach children as it’s a perfect metaphor for ambition. If a simple piece of paper can reach soaring heights and distances, what more a child? (But please don’t throw a child. We don’t mean it literally).
We did a bit of research and found the best ways of building the perfect paper airplanes that fly far. It’s become a science, with people taking it so seriously as to hold competitions.
Yep, we’re not kidding. It’s so intense even Red Bull has a paper plane competition!
How to Build the Bulldog Dart
— ✖ She ✖ (@_sherwen) January 18, 2019
This is a simple way of building some of the most effective paper airplanes. There are only a few folds needed, which is perfect as a beginner plane for a child. All you need is a regular sheet of paper and a flat and stable surface.
Fold the paper lengthwise in the middle to create a line, then unfold it. This is only to create a guideline to help with the next steps.
Take the top corners down so that they meet in the middle crease. You may remember this as the classic start to beginning a paper airplane as a child.
Flip the paper over so the folded portion is lying face down on the flat surface. Take the corners and fold them towards the middle crease once again.
The diagonal lines should meet end to end at the middle crease.
Take the top point and fold it down. The tip should come at the point the two previous folds meet in the middle.
It should look like a smaller upside down triangle on top of a larger triangle.
Measure an inch from either side of the middle crease, and fold the wings inward. Unfold again, as this creates a folding guide for the next step.
Fold the wings outward along the new guide crease. These new folds should create a straight line across the top of the plane, with the telltale snub nose underneath.
Your paper airplane is done! This plane is best flown when you throw it slowly, as fast speeds only cause the snub nose to dive down.
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How to Build the Harrier Plane
This type of paper airplane is the perfect mid-level plane. It flies better than the bulldog dart but requires more complex folds.
Fold the paper lengthwise in the middle to create a line, then unfold it. Again, this is only to create a guiding crease to help with the next steps.
Take the top corners down so that they meet in the middle crease.
Fold the whole top of the paper down so that you’re left with what looks like an envelope. Leave half an inch gap at the bottom though, and don’t meet the tip to the bottom edge of the paper.
Take the top corners of the envelope to meet at the middle crease, then fold. When finished, there should be a small upside down triangle peering out from the bottom.
Remember that small triangle? Fold it up against the previous folds.
Fold everything outwards in half. The folds should be readily visible.
Fold the wings down so that the edges run parallel to the bottom edge. The outcome should look like a more streamlined version of the classic paper airplane.
Let it fly! It has fantastic stability due to the heavy triangle underneath it.
How to Build the Hammer Plane
This is among the more advanced paper airplanes and takes way more folds than the harrier and the bulldog. It is, however, a beginner-friendly entry into the world of advanced paper plane making, so pay attention as the effort will be worth your while.
This starts off on a different foot than the classic way of folding a paper airplane. Take the upper corner of the paper and bring it all the way down so it meets the opposite edge of the paper. Fold to create a crease and unfold, creating a guide line.
Repeat step 1 with the opposite side. Unfolded, your paper should have an ‘X’ covering three-fourths of its area.
Take the top right corner of the paper and align it along the line of the ‘X’ that goes from left to right. Fold along the crease.
Repeat step 3 with the opposite side, so that the top left point won’t overlap with the right edge. You should end up with the folded paper looking like a shawl.
Fold the entire thing in half inwards then unfold. That middle crease will be a guide for the next few steps.
After unfolding from step 5, fold the top so that it meets the bottom edge of the paper.
Take the top corners and have them meet at the middle crease. Fold the creases that form and unfold, revealing more guide lines.
Remember step 5 when you folded the top towards the bottom? Take that flap and fold it right at the point where the creases begin.
Take the top corners of the wing flaps and fold them in again. Their edges should meet the edge of the top flap you folded in the previous step.
Fold in the wing flaps inwards once again. You should end up with a triangular shape that is completely straight along the sides.
Fold the top down so that the crease starts at the tip of the folded wing flaps.
Fold the whole thing outwards in half. You should end up with all the flaps visible from the outside.
Fold the wings down so that their edges meet the bottom edge of the plane. Take your time and be precise!
Your hammer plane is ready for takeoff! If you’ve done all the steps right, this bad boy should soar far and high.
Learn more types of folding paper planes in this video from WIRED:
You can always build a regular paper plane, but why not use all the complex science and effort put into it by paper airplane visionaries? With just a little more effort with folding, your heart will burst with satisfaction and pride once your finished plane glides effortlessly through the air.
Got some foolproof paper plane tricks up your sleeve? Share them with us in the comments section below!
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