Introduction: The Incredible Flying Paper Tube

Picture of The Incredible Flying Paper Tube

Do you stink at making a decent paper airplane? I do. So break the mold and follow this Instructable to make an awesome flying tube! This design was supposedly created by world-record paper airplane thrower John Collins. It's easy and only requires a single sheet of paper. Let's get started!

Step 1: Fold It

Picture of Fold It

Start with your paper in "landscape" orientation and fold down the top third of the paper. It doesn't have to be precise, so long as its at least 1/3 of the paper. Make a nice crease.

Step 2: Fold It Some More

Picture of Fold It Some More

Now fold the top down to the edge that you folded down. Do it one more time. See the first two pictures. Again, make good creases. Now let's make the paper want to be tube-shaped. Bend the folded part of the paper, with the folded part on the inside. You can do this with your hands, or by rubbing it on the edge of a table. When you're done, the length of the paper should have a slight curve to it.

Step 3: Tubify It

Picture of Tubify It

Before we give this craft its tube shape, unfold the very last fold you made in the previous step. Only the last fold. Now roll the paper into a tube. Tuck about 1 and 1/2 inches of the end of the paper into the main crease on the other side. Do you remember that fold you just undid? Re-fold it now, towards the inside. Once you're done, use your fingers to smooth the end and form a nice round shape.

Congratulations; you're done!

Step 4: Throw It

Picture of Throw It

There are many ways to throw this thing. My favorite is like a football. Hold the tube lightly between your fingers and thumb and throw it like a football, letting it roll off your fingers to make a nice tight spiral. Using the same grip, you can also try throwing it straight, with no spiral, like a dart.

You can also hold it from the back end with your fingers and fling it that way. Basically, as long as the folded end is in the front, you will have fairly good luck with your throws.

By popular demand (okay, one person), here is a short video of the Incredible Flying Paper Tube in flight:

Hope you enjoyed this Instructable. Have fun!


emcee2 (author)2018-01-04

its ok, nothin to call home about.

offseid (author)emcee22018-01-06

Thank you! :P

DIY-Guy (author)2017-07-27

My father showed me a variant of this when I was young, and it's still a fun aerodynamic ring/tube wing. Excellent indoor aircraft!

elotromaddog made it! (author)2017-06-14

I made this and it does fly but I need to practice thanks for your instructions

offseid (author)elotromaddog2017-06-19

Way to go! Looks great! :)

Jimichan (author)2017-06-13

The way I learned this is to fold up a little fin with the loose edge in order induce spin. Also, you can make these in a left hand or right hand configuration by changing which side you tuck on the inside (although a right-hander can throw the left hand version underhand and vice-versa).

JorgeG52 (author)2017-06-13

Acho que se usar paginas de revistas ou papel de presente fica legal!

offseid (author)JorgeG522017-06-13

Yes, different is good!

RDWard (author)2017-06-12

A good reminder to take some time to push everything else aside sometimes and do what you did when you were 10 and had nothing else more important to do. Thanks.

offseid (author)RDWard2017-06-13

Exactly. :D Thanks for the comment!

DreamDabbler (author)2017-06-12

On an episode of The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation with Mo Rocca, they showed a man who invented a launcher for a large, tough foam version of these -- for dogs to chase! OH, here's a link:

offseid (author)DreamDabbler2017-06-13

That's really cool, thanks for the link!!!

JorgeG52 (author)2017-06-13

Será que dá para ser feito com garrafas pet?

ShekharSahu (author)2017-06-13

Wow! this is brilliant.

ajayt7 (author)2017-06-12

Good one, I am going to use it for my grand child (-:

sahmada (author)2017-06-12

It was cool!

anv3D (author)2017-06-12


doesn't work... :l

Galaxytommy016 (author)2017-03-28

cool project it would be really awesome if you printed something cool on it like flames.

offseid (author)Galaxytommy0162017-03-29

Nice idea! Lemme think about that and upload something if I can.

Galaxytommy016 (author)offseid2017-03-29

I used this drawing of a city skyline, its not as eye catching as flames but it is still more interesting than blank paper.

offseid (author)Galaxytommy0162017-03-30

Hey Kuala Lumpur - I used to live there! :) Nice.

saurabhmarshettiwar02 (author)2017-03-22

mind blowing

thomasboudreau (author)2017-03-14

Really neat. Can't wait to show my grandsons.

offseid (author)thomasboudreau2017-03-15

Great! Have a great time with them. :)

bretemaches (author)2017-03-07

Niceee!. Many thanks, will do it with my two children.

TommyH69 (author)2017-02-28

Was looking for a craft to do with my grandkids. It is easy and fun and it really flies. Good job team.

offseid (author)TommyH692017-03-01

Yay! Glad to hear. :)

suzans (author)2017-01-31

Made it with my kids and took it to local kids' makerspace. Kids tried variations with different cuts and folds making the tube spin and go in different directions. Great simple project to get kids to learn by experimenting.

offseid (author)suzans2017-02-01

One thing I enjoy doing (I may have mentioned this somewhere else in these comments): After I make the tube, I crumple it into a ball, and then open back up and reform it into as good of a tube as I can. Now, when I throw it, it has a really funny wobble when it flies, like it's a clunker or a beat-up old aircraft (which it is!).

Wei XunH1 (author)2017-01-13

Does anyone know the physics behind the tube design? How does this work?

jumbuck68 (author)Wei XunH12017-01-31

the upper and lower surface act as the wings of a biplane. Using a circle removes the turbulence usually found at the wing tips.

It's known as an annular wing or circular wing. I don't know if any have made it to commercial/military production, but there have been many working protypes built and flown over the years.

Adding the spin like a thrown gridiron ball/torpedo punted AFL ball creates Bernoulli forces to give its flight stability and thus extra distance.

TallTrav (author)2017-01-22

We used to make a plane of similar design in high school. We would fold the paper in half, on the diagonal, so the fold ran the paper between the opposite corners. Then you give it some weight by folding it every 1 cm or 1/2 inch until you got the weight you wanted for the leading edge, like yours. Tuck the long ends into each other and you were done. We called them "Pope Hats" or "Catholic Freedom Fighters". The christian brothers who taught us had a laugh.

martincoetzee (author)2017-01-19

I made this a few months ago with my kids. They had a lot of fun. I'm on leave next week and they're still on school holiday so I think we can give it another go.

Goldfinv (author)2017-01-03

Pretty cool. Made it

Galleli made it! (author)2017-01-01

Thank you ..

offseid (author)Galleli2017-01-02

Yeah, nice! Happy New Year!

Yoruk (author)2016-12-31

This is so... incredible ! I have to try this !!

ninjawesome (author)2016-12-27

Mind if I make a YouTube video on how to build this? I will give full credit to the creator of this project. Looks like an awesome build, thanks!! (You can check out my channel here )

offseid (author)ninjawesome2016-12-29

Hi ninjawesome, thanks for your interest! And your channel looks pretty cool. I am happy for you to make a YouTube video on the build for this project. I'd appreciate a link back to my Instructable. Thanks!

Alaskan Bev (author)2016-12-27

Great, fun 'ible, offseid, thanks! I had to go to college to learn how to make these! Teaching special ed art, I worked up an actual instructional unit on the Bernoulli Principle and general interesting flight lessons. We concluded with an assortment of paper airplanes; the students really loved this tube one. I'd give them a piece of heavy-weight printer paper and have them decorate it with Crayons or colored pencils, then show them a couple of the tube planes I had already prepared and teach them how to fold their own and then throw them. We had those things flying all over the playground, from the tops of the slides and climbing equipment, etc. Now I do all sorts of paper planes with my grandkids and great-grandkids and they think I'm such a cool Gramma! Thanks for the trip, offseid!

offseid (author)Alaskan Bev2016-12-29

So happy to have your story, thanks Bev!

offseid (author)Alaskan Bev2016-12-29

So happy to hear your story, thanks Bev!

Huckdeana (author)Alaskan Bev2016-12-28

I'm a special ed art teacher too. Looking forward to using this!

Adam_Learns made it! (author)2016-12-27

Works like a dream. Something to teach everyone else ? Thanks for putting in the time to create this instructable.

offseid (author)Adam_Learns2016-12-29

You're welcome! Glad it works well for you.

FredW44 (author)2016-12-06

The flying fuselage 1966

HUNDFITZ (author)FredW442016-12-27

The man in the picture is Dr. Lippisch. He was the WW II German aeronautical genius that created all of the flight control laws that made swept wing aircraft feasible. I worked on a project for him in 1963. It was a air scoop type of boat/airplane that used the ground effect to left off. It could either continue as a flying boat or an airplane. An 8HP McCulloch engine took to to 55 MPH. If you wanted a flying car, this was something the government idiots who directed the program could never understand. Our loss.


offseid (author)HUNDFITZ2016-12-29

So cool! Thanks for the history lesson!

HUNDFITZ (author)FredW442016-12-27

Sorry for the spelling erros.

Dave K-Brew (author)2016-12-27

We used to start with a square and start folding the weighted rim from the corner-it ended up looking like a Pope hat. It didn't spin. Sitting in the upper deck at Reds games in the early 80's, we would toss planes made from program pages to see how far they would go. The tube REGULARLY made it to the field in a slow, graceful, roller-coaster like motion. Fans would start cheering the plane on and erupt when it hit the field. I remember once the third base umpire picked it up and put it right where the painted infield/foul lines intersected (old AstroTurf field) and we were THRILLED!!!! One of my fondest childhood memories. Thanks for bringing them back!

About This Instructable




Bio: I enjoy the process. Who cares how long it takes?
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