The best paper airplane


Every semester, grade school students at Regent Preparatory School do a semester project. Students pick a subject that interests them, do some sort of activity related to that interest, and then put together a visual presentation about what they did.

Joseph is doing his first project this year, and he chose paper airplanes for his topic. When I was in Savannah, I found a great book called Amazing Paper Planes, by Edward Hui, and brought it home as a gift for Joe. A couple of weekends ago we built and tested most of the patterns in the book, all of which can be made from a single sheet of paper, and most of which require no cutting or taping. The book includes explanations of the aerodynamics of paper planes, and, crucially, how to diagnose problems with a plane's flight and make appropriate adjustments.

The star performer was the paperang, a craft that looks more like a hang glider than a traditional paper dart. Released (not thrown) from about 6 feet, the plane swoops down then glides along inches above the floor before coming to a landing. It can do some fancy flying when launched like a boomerang.

The author now has a website devoted to the paperang design, where you can view instructions and construction photos. For a fee you can download a printable version. All you need is a sheet of paper, a pair of scissors, and a stapler -- one staple in the middle to hold it together.

UPDATE 1/3/2006: Corrected author's name.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on November 20, 2003 12:03 PM.

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