Paper airplanes are a hit in our house, and this the one that we had fun with over the weekend. This flying arc paper airplane is similar to a design I found in The Great International Paper Airplane Book that we got a long time ago at the Smithsonian in DC. We modified ours to include stabilizers. On a rainy day they can burn some energy climbing stairs as we launch them over and over. Of course you can take a break from the stairs and decorate them too. We like to make a several at a time.
The best part about this paper airplane is that you can modify it as you play and it will change how it flies. If you tilt the tail stabilizers, it will turn differently. You can also change how much lift it has by changing how tight the arc is. If the arc is really tight, very curved, it will descend more quickly. If the arc is slight, almost straight, it will try to climb. The fun is trying to figure out how much arc will make it glide for the longest.
This template shows the folds and steps. Once you get the hang of it, you can make four from a standard letter sized piece of paper. it works with a full size piece of paper too., although we have more fun when we have lots of flying arcs to launch.
Tools and Materials
- Scissors (optional)
Cut a Rectangle
- This template is 4.25 inches x 5.5 inches, the size of a quarter of a sheet of letter sized paper.
Create the Wing
- Fold a corner to the midpoint of the long edge.
- Fold along the same edge to the midpoint.
- Fold the thick edge in the same direction from the midpoint.
- Roll corners on the folded edge together, so the folded edge has a curve.
Make the Stabilizers
- Fold the corders up at the unfolded edge. These are about 0.5 inches tall.
Flying the Arc
- The front of the plane is the folded edge. To launch this plane, you hold it in the middle of the back edge. Thumb and forefinger works well. Let the front drop a bit lower than the back. Then let go.
- If the plane drops too fast, try straightening out the arc.
- If the plane climbs and stalls, then climbs and stalls, try bending the arc a bit more.
- You can also play with the stabilizer fins to make it turn at different angles or go straight.
Flying Arc Paper Airplane Template
This is just a guide with proportions that work well. You could make 4 of these from a standard sheet of paper. Click the graphic below for PDF of this template to print.
This is how it looks fully assembled. We used scrap paper for this one. Usually that is pretty easy to find in our house. As you can tell, we also didn’t use scissors, we just creased the paper and tore it into the rectangle we needed.
This is a version made from the template. I started with the printed side down so I could see the dashed lines in the template as I folded.