Introduction: How to Make the Firefly Paper Airplane

Picture of How to Make the Firefly Paper Airplane

Fast, tiny and simple, the Firefly is a miniature drone-fighter paper airplane meant to be easy to make and capable.

In response to the Make It Fly! contest, I decided to design the Firefly to introduce the concept of miniature paper airplanes to new origami aviators. To this end, I resolved to make it easy to make and conventional but capable. The design was modeled somewhat after the Super Manx and recycled the wing of the popular SkyRanger (with minor modification) to achieve the desired goals. The aircraft proved itself to be a good performer in testing and was approved for publication on that basis.

TAA USAF Designation: D415-1

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

Required:
1 Piece of 8 by 10.5 inch graph paper

Scissors

Ruler

Tape

Pencil

Stapler

Step 2: Begin Construction

Picture of Begin Construction

First, begin by folding your your graph paper in half (excluding three boxes on the perforated side). Once the paper has been folded appropriately, make two marks--10 full boxes apart (allow for a further box back behind the airframe). Use a ruler to make a straight line with the length of 10 boxes directly up 1 row of boxes from the two marks you just made. Then make the stabilizers, spars and counterweight as shown. The airframe should appear as it does in the first photograph when you have completed its layout.

After the fuselage is made, take another sheet of paper that is folded in half along the lines of boxes. Mark out the wing as shown (1 box in length by 4 boxes in width, with a swept portion in front of this box of 1 box of chord eliminated every 2 boxes away from the fuselage). Measure 0.5 boxes from the wingtip and make a dotted line parallel to the fold.

Solid lines indicate places to cut. Dotted lines indicate fold lines.
Note: 1 box = 0.25 inches

Step 3: Making the Fuselage

Picture of Making the Fuselage

Cut out your fuselage and fold its counterweights into place. Cut along the solid lines of the tail then cut away the portion shown. After doing this, fold the fin forward along the dotted line. Fold along the dotted vertical line in the center of the fuselage and then cut along the solid horizontal line. After making the cut, unfold the fuselage and apply tape where designated. Fold the horizontal stabilizers down afterward.

Step 4: Applying the Wings; Stapling

Picture of Applying the Wings; Stapling

Cut out the wings and pull them through the fuselage as shown. Apply tape where designated and fold the winglets down as pictured. Apply one staple in the area of the counterweights to complete your Firefly.

Step 5: Flight

Picture of Flight

Due to its conventional shape, the Firefly is very predictable in its handling and can be flown quite easily. Origami aviators with experience with other miniature paper airplanes should have little trouble transitioning. Launches should be done at moderate speeds at neutral or positive attitudes. Additional surfaces include flaps, ailerons, elevators and a trimmable rudder. Enjoy!

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Bio: I am someone who mass produces paper airplanes and am always developing new designs. I post regular updates on Twitter and Google+. Follow me there ... More »
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