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Paper airplanes are arguably the most common form of origami. They are very easy toys to make, made of folded paper; perhaps because of its simplicity, it is its popularity.

Let us remember that origami is an art of Japanese origin that is based on folding paper without the use of glue or scissors.

You may wonder why does a paper plane fly? Well, it carries the same forces as a real plane: air resistance, the force of gravity, lift and thrust. In paper airplanes you give the push by throwing it according to the force you put on it. In other words, your arm will act as a turbine. Air resistance will be responsible for slowing it down when it loses strength.

There is no clear history of the origin of paper airplanes, but it is said that the Chinese in ancient times used kites to fly objects and used paper to make things and use them for training. It is also said that the idea was thought of from a crumpled piece of paper thrown into a garbage can.

In 1930, Mr. Jack Northrop used paper airplanes for aerodynamic tests, from which ideas for real airplanes arose.

The world record for paper airplane flights is held by Ken Blackburn, he owned the title from  1983 to 1996 (13 years) and in 1998 he managed to revalidate his title, making a paper airplane in a closed space stay in the air for 27.6 seconds.

We can say that paper planes, like other devices or objects, have had their history and evolution.

You do not have to be an expert to make paper airplanes, it is so simple that you will only need a sheet of paper, no scissors or glue.

What do you need to make a paper plane?

  • One or several sheets of 4A or letter paper 21.5cm x 28cm (paper cannot be square, always rectangular)
  • A flat surface
  • a few minutes of your time

Instructions to make a paper plane

Here we will see how to make a simple arrow paper airplane.

  1. Take the sheet, put it vertically and fold it in half. (Along in a rectangle shape), make the crease well defined or sharp, for this you can use a flat edge tool or your thumb.
  2. Unfold the paper again without turning it over.
  3. Fold 2 ends of the same side (the top corners) and see that they are joined to the fold we left in step 1 (the center crease), they should be well aligned as precisely as you can. The edges you just folded should meet the fold line and touch each other. The upper part should have been left in the shape of a triangle ending in a point.
  4. To start making the airplane wings, again grab each end of the sheet and fold them in half (grab the top corners of the outer edges to fold to the center). As in the previous step, the edges should be joined along the vertical fold that we made in the middle of the page. We can see that now most of the paper is forming a triangle with a point at the top, made by 2 narrower triangular flaps.
  5. As in step 1, fold the paper in half again and you can now lift the wings by unfolding them outwards, they should be straight. Everything must fit exactly.
  6. Proceed to launch your plane,

This is one of the simplest models that exist to make airplanes, but you can find others, even those made of corrugated cardboard are already called paper airplanes.

Tips for making a paper plane

  • There are several types of sheets of paper; their thickness and weight vary; the light paper will help it take longer to fall to the ground, but a thicker one gives it more stability in the air, therefore it is recommended to use a middle sheet (neither the one for daily use, nor the cardboard). Ideas is the bond paper used for photocopiers.
  • You must be very symmetrical in the fold of the paper, so that the plane stays longer in the air.
  • If you want your plane to be fast, don’t make the wings too big.
  • If what you want is for the plane to achieve greater distance, make it more robust.
  • Use the color that you like the most, hopefully strong to be more fun.
  • Do not go to wrinkle the tip when making the plane, it would not be useful.
  • If you want to make a slightly more advanced version of this basic plane, just add wingtips. Make a small fold on the back edge of each of the wings (it will be in the shape of a small triangle), then fold them up. Remember to make sure the folds match up.