A paper plane, paper aeroplane, paper glider, paper airplane or paper dart is a toy plane made out of paper. It is also sometimes called aerogami, after origami (the Japanese art of paper folding). In Japanese, it is called kamihikōki (紙飛行機). It is popular in Hawaii because it is one of the easiest types of origami for a novice to master. The most basic paper plane would only take at most six steps to "correctly" complete. The term "paper plane" can also refer to those made from oranges. The best are made by James Kudalin who in 2008 set the world records for hang time and distance with 207.25 seconds of flight and a traveling distance of 116 m).
The use of paper airplanes to create toys, is believed to have originated 2,000 years ago in China, where kites were a popular form of entertainment. Leonardo da Vinci is often cited as the inventor of paper planes, although this is debatable since the Chinese invented both paper and the kite. However, he did make reference to building a model plane out of parchment. Arguably the father of model gliders was George Cayley, who built hand-launched kite-like gliders made from linen in the early 1800s. Although these can be considered to be evidence for the modern paper plane, one cannot be sure where exactly the invention originated.
The earliest known date of the creation of modern paper planes was said to have been in 1909. However, the most accepted version of the creation was two decades later in 1930 by Jack Northrop (Co-founder of Lockheed Corporation). Northrop had used paper planes as tests of ideas for flying real-life aircraft. Many other famous designers are known to have done this, either in the form of actual models, or else 'paper aircraft' which are numerical simulations of the aircraft design - which is another subject entirely.
In the late 1970s a number of radical departures were introduced by two Australian designers in the late 1970s / early 1980s, with the introduction of tail-dragger as well as tricycle undercarriages. Jack Boterman's book of complex Origami aircraft introduced many new forms, though many were Kirigami, and included glue and staples.
Creative use of scissors and glue have resulted in swing-wing and high performance derivatives of basic designs.
The paper airplanes listed below are step-by-step instructions for making some types of common and simple paper airplanes. More designs can be found elsewhere on the Internet and in books.
Another interesting property of the two ring-wings in tandem on a central shaft is the apparent ability to respond effortlessly to very rapid acceleration. The small model (Canadian ring-wing glider DIY 'deuce') at about 12" length can be seen to retain a crisp clean arc-shaped flight-path when thrown quite slowly as well as when thrown at very high scale-speeds. It should be noted that the optimum flight may only be achieved with a carefully balanced ratio of ring-wing width and depth to the length of the central shaft or fuselage, in precise combination with a certain ballst weight in the nose.
In the case of the larger Model 3, length 26", see an additional ballast weight at the Center of Gravity (CG) substantially increases both stability and inertia resulting in a longer trajectory when hand-thrown.
This observation logically hints at a craft that has the potential to execute a highly control-able trajectory at very high air-speeds. It remains to be seen what if any practical application this cluster of attributes might have for future R&D.
Paper gliders have two forms of advancement:
Noteworthy events in the wake of advancements in paper aircraft include:
Paper's mass/density ratio is higher than lighter materials such as balsa wood, and so in consequence a conventional origami paper glider (see above) has considerably lower performance due to higher drag and imperfect aerodynamic section of its wings. Conventional balsa gliders will always out-perform conventional paper aircraft for this reason.
However, unlike balsa gliders, paper gliders have a far higher strength/thickness ratio - a sheet of office-quality 80gsm photocopier/laser printer paper, for example, has the in-scale strength of aircraft-grade aluminium. Card stock has the properties of steel at the scale of paper model aircraft.
Accomplished engineers, and enthusiasts have found that using paper as a construction material allows, with care, for the replication of performance characteristics which can exceed those of conventional hand-launched free flight gliders, if use of engineering principles and aeronautics are included during the process of design. As a result, two distinct design sets (Ninomiya, 1969 and Mathews, 1982 : see below) have emerged, both possessing remarkable performance a full two orders of magnitude removed from conventional gliders.
As far as scale-modelling goes, paper aircraft modelling has aided full scale as well as modellers. The first conceptions of scale model or semi-scale gliders appeared in the "Great International Paper Airplane Book", 1967.
Design of paper models is an attractive pursuit, as design of wings and other surfaces can be completely in-scale by tracing flight surfaces with precision. Further, CAD software can be used in plotting the shapes of wings, tailplanes and other compnents for easy reproduction of parts for assembly. With care, it is even possible to colour in a model airframe before construction commences, or print patterns upon it during the process of reproduction.
During the second world war a peak was reached with flying card models, where rubber powered fighters were produced. This peak has been reached many times since then for scale model paper aircraft.Care in construction can produce flying models which are superior in strength and lightness to balsa and foam models, so that micro radio-control and electric power may be employed in these airframes. Larger scale construction with corrugate cardboard, re-inforced with other materials is another option to radio-control models desiring inexpensive 'disposable' airframes
White Wings are a stark departure from conventional paper aircraft, in that their fuselages and wings are paper templates cut and glued together. They were designed with the aid of low-speed aerodynamics, and their parts are drafted with the use of CAD software.
The high performance gliders have fuselages that are kept rigid by the use of a balsa fuselage profile bonded to the paper components. The paper used is quite heavy, approximately twice the weight of standard drawing cartridge paper, but lighter than lightweight cardboard. Original White Wings were entirely paper, requiring patience and skill. Later however, balsa-wood fuselages were used, and White Wings were sold "pre-cut", making construction easier. The aerofoil used is a Gottingen 801 (curved plate), and a pattern is supplied as a cutout part of each kit.
The performance of the Paper Pilot gliders is almost equivalent to that of the Ninomiya gliders - but one of the first designs, a profile model of the SAAF C-160Z Transall, has a gliding distance of greater than the length of a rugby pitch. The early gliders were designed to incorporate a catapult hook shaped from a paper clip. Later designs (And upgraded early designs) incorporated the addition of a bungy hook, permitting extremely long distance flights.
A remarkable characteristic of the Paper Pilot gliders are their ability to be flight trimmed - to the point of being able to fly straight in confined spaces, which few modern paper gliders can do.
E.H. Mathews designs then developed in '12 Planes for the Paper Pilot' (Struik, 1997) into aircraft with three dimensional fuselages - models included the J-3 Piper Cub, Beech Stagger-Wing Biplane and Britten-Norman Trislander (a subject of a high performance flat glider earier in the series).
E.H. Mathews authored a commemorative model of the SAAF Junkers Ju-52/3m 'Johan van Riebeek' in 1999, and an as-yet unreleased model of the Airbus A-320 airliner in South African Airways colours, seen on the SABC youth TV program 'Tekkies' in 1998, as a prototype.
The most astonishing glider developed by Prof. Mathews was the Papercopter - a free-flight paper model helicopter, with a rotationally stablised ring-wing as the flight dynamic element. Three variants were developed - the standard Papercopter of 1991, the Airwolf (1993) and the Stealth helicopter.
The world's first known published forward gliding paper autogyro with forward pointing body lifted by spinning blades was built by James Zongker. It appears on page 53 of "The Paper Airplane Book: The Official Book of the Second Great International Paper Airplane Contest" published in 1985 by Science Magazine. Its twin contra-rotating blades automatically spin on paper axles upon launch to provide lift.
As noted above (see entry, Paper Pilot), E.H. Mathews developed a flight stable paper model helicopter. This has a ring wing, and flaps for adjusting for flight for stability, positioned on the inboard edge of the ring. While not an autogyro per sê, this paper model aircraft class falls within the general design of a paper model helicopter, and does possess a rotational flight element producing lift during forward flight. Papercopters, as Professor Mathews labeled them, are unique among paper model rotorcraft in having a range and velocity far in excess of all other classes, able to fly quite quickly, and with a range of between 10-15m.
There are multiple goals for a flight:
For every goal there is a typical plane and sometimes a world record.
There have been many attempts over the years to break the barriers of throwing a paper plane for the longest time aloft. Ken Blackburn held this Guinness world record for 13 years (1983–1996) and had regained the record on October 81998 by keeping his paper plane aloft for 27.6 seconds (indoors). This was confirmed by Guinness officials and a CNN report The paper plane that Blackburn used in this record breaking attempt was a "glider".
Independently, Edmond Hui invented a Stealth Bomber-like paper airplane called the Paperang in 1977, based on hang glider aerodynamics. Uniquely, it has properly controlled airfoil sections, high aspect ratio wings, and a construction method designed to allow the builder to vary every aspect of its shape. It was the subject of a book, Amazing Paper Airplanes in 1987, and a number of newspaper articles in 1992. It is ineligible for most paper airplane competitions due to the use of a staple, but it has extremely high gliding performance exceeding glide ratios of 12 to 1 with good stability.
In 1975, origami artist Michael LaFosse designed a pure origami (one sheet; no cutting, glue or staples...) flying wing, which he named the "Art Deco Wing". Though its aerodynamic form mimics some hang glider and supersonic airfoils, its invention evolved from exploring the beauty of folded paper first. Its glide ratio and stability are on a par with many of the best paper wing constructions that use glue, tape or staples. This design was first published in 1984 in the book "Wings and Things", by Stephen Weiss, St. Martin's Press.
Although it is a common view that light paper planes go farther than heavy ones, this is considered to be untrue by Blackburn. Blackburn's record-breaking 20-year-old paper plane (Instructions) was based on his belief that the best planes had short wings and are "heavy" at the point of the launch phase in which the thrower throws the paper plane into the air, and at the same time longer wings and a "lighter" weight would allow the paper plane to have better flight times but this cannot be thrown hard with much pressure into the air as a "heavy" weighted launch phase. According to Blackburn, "For maximum height and for a good transition to gliding flight, the throw must be within 10 degrees of vertical" — which shows that a speed of at least 60 miles per hour (about 100 kilometers per hour) is the amount needed to throw the paper plane successfully.
After the folding there are still gaps between different layers of folded paper (tearoff edge). These and the kinks transversal to the airflow may have a detrimental effect on aerodynamics, especially on the upper side of the wing. In some models the surfaces are not aligned to the direction of flow acting as airbrakes (notice the airbrakes of the B-2 in the picture above!). Typically the center of mass is at 1/4 and the center of area is at 1/2 of the plane lengths. Two method exist to shift the center of mass to the front. One rolls up the leading edge which then stays unswept. The other uses a swept wing or axial folding to produce something like a fuselage extending out of leading edge of the wing. If you want to make a more advanced plane, first, fold the paper in the middle. Unfold. Fold the bottom up about 1/2 an inch. Do this until the top is about 2 inches high. Turn over and turn upside-down. Make wings.