Introduction: Walkalong Glider Made From Phone Book Paper

Picture of Walkalong Glider Made From Phone Book Paper
What's a walkalong glider and how does it work? Here's a video by the students of Slater Harrison at the Jersey Shores Middles School:

Here's another video of a completed paper tumblewing walkalong glider on a 30 second "cross country" soaring flight:

Build your own walkalong glider

The first step: Creating a tumblewing walkalong glider from telephone book paper (tissue paper (wrapping paper) is lighter and works better if you have any). This video summarizes steps 1-4:

Step 1: Cut Out a Piece of Paper

Picture of Cut Out a Piece of Paper

Cut out a piece of paper with approximately 1:5 or so (slender). Here I've just sheared the end off a 8 1/2" by 11 sheet of paper to make a ~21cm by 5cm strip.

Step 2: Fold Up the Ends of the Strip of Paper

Picture of Fold Up the Ends of the Strip of Paper

Fold up one end, then the other end. Make sure the folds are symetric and at right angles. Here each fold occurs 2 cm from each end (approximately %10 of the length of the strip).

Step 3: Make 45 Degree Folds on Leading and Trailing Edges

Picture of Make 45 Degree Folds on Leading and Trailing Edges

make a fold in the center of the trailing edge (trailing edge goes up). It is important that the fold not disturb the right angle fold you have just created at the ends of the strip in step 2. Turn the strip of paper upside down and fold the trailing edge, taking care the fold again does not disturb the right angle folds at the ends of the strip. You may need to reform the right angle folds at the ends of the strip which might have been disturbed by folding the leading edge with the strip upside down.

Step 4: Launching the Tumblewing

Picture of Launching the Tumblewing

Hold the folded strip at the center of the trailing edge (the trailing edge has the fold which goes up) with the wing tips pointing up. Let the glider go. It should tumble slowly down and forward. If it "falls off" and angles to one side or the other, the wingtip folds may not be symetric and will need adjustment. Make sure you fly the tumblewing indoors and in a location with as little drafts as possible.

Stay tuned for the next installment instructable on how to sustaing and control your tumblewing with a suitably positioned paddle.

Step 5: Video on Launching a Tumblewing Walkalong Glider

Video on how to launch a tumblewing walkalong glider:

Step 6: Video on Launching and Sustaining a Tumblewing Walkalong Glider

Make sure you launch the tumblewing from as high as you can so it has enough altitude to get into a stable flight regime:


delonzo (author)2013-06-25

That was cool

Kletson (author)2013-03-21

Hello, I am looking for some more technical stuff about this, is that I have a job to do to college this topic, and I have only found how to make gliders, would like information on flight mode, and other information ...

if someone can show me where to find literature on this subject.

i love aircraft (author)2012-01-23

do u people know there is better one, but u need to be a good pilot. they are fast

NXTHacker (author)2011-07-25

Is it possible if i make a mini version of your glider? would it still fly?

yes, it will because i had made one, it was like 10cm by 3 cm.

Ojsmudge (author)2011-01-15

could this principal work for a car and a heavier glider

In theory, a car does produce lift above it. More aerodynamic models have less lift as the lift is a source of drag. I think there is a video out there of an RC glider being flown in the ridge lift above the windshield of a moving car. The pilot was standing up in the car holding his RC controller poking out of the open sun roof flying the glider! Someone else was driving the car. It looked a little dangerous but not impossible.

clax1227 (author)Ojsmudge2011-06-13

no because the whole principle of the walkalong glider is that the cardboard pushes the air up to provide lift for the glider, for a car the air glides right over it and is NOT directed above

Shredder543 (author)2010-05-23

Mine keeps going down, it is spinning, but even though I have it moving forward, it keeps falling. What am I doing wrong?

same with me, but that was a trial and i didnt have the right kind of problem im going to try it with different paper.

HBtheprodancer (author)2010-09-08

we have an airplane contest tomorrow to see who can fly the slowest airplane and have it land past ten feet- i am going to totally win it! thank you sooo much. this is rlly cool stuff u have here.

weirdscience (author)2010-07-03

This is an awesome instructable!! Very well done.

kcls (author)2010-04-01

Great fun! Thanks for the 'ible!

KnexFreek (author)2010-02-23

 i have seen all your ibles and YOU ROCK!!!!!!! omg wow !!!! your stuff is awesome!!! i subscribed!!!!

mrc4796 (author)2009-11-02

will newspaper work?

Yes, but bear in mind that as the mass per unit area of the paper goes up (tissue paper is the lightest I've found), so does the wing loading which means the glider will fall faster and in the end the pilot will have to move faster to sustain the glider.

Street Soulja (author)2009-07-27


47dashes (author)2009-05-23

men! ive make one but i cant make it fly!

christian yeatts (author)2009-03-14

OMG just today at the elementry school i through one of these and the thing went so high up i couldn't even see it no lie.


How did you throw it?

My hunch is that the tumblewing got caught in a thermal of some sort, HVAC if indoors, thermal if outdoors. There is just about zero momentum that can be imparted to a tumblewing and it becomes very quickly at the mercy of the wind.

PizzaPlanet (author)2008-08-03

just print this and cut it out works fine!

sssssbooom (author)2008-02-29

so what is the board behind it for?

The board is in motion following the glider. The board pushes air around it, with some of the air going up over the board which sustains the glider. See also:
wikipedia entry on walkalong gliding

stuffman366 (author)sssssbooom2008-03-03

the board pushes air and sustaines the glider

xxkeanureevesxx (author)2008-01-11

OMG just today at the elementry school i through one of these and the thing went so high up i couldn't even see it no lie.

txoof (author)2007-11-24

What a pointlessly beautiful object! I'm astounded with the simplicity and beauty of this little gem. Thanks so much for sharing it with the world!

walkalongaviation (author)txoof2007-11-24

My pleasure. I have to thank a student at a college in Wisconsin for bringing this design to my attention. I've used it ever since and hope to start everybody flying. The whole setup can be made from selected trash!

fighter pilot (author)2007-04-07

OMFG! I first saw these on Scientific American Frontiers, and i wanted one so bad! I couldn't find where to get one, and now i can make one, thanks alot!

Glad you are happy. I just tried a paper airplane glider successfully; however, it happened to be calm outside and I flew it out in the street. Quite a workout keeping up with the heavier designs made from standard paper and they are sluggish (all but not responding) when you want to turn them. I think the tumblewing is still the best to learn on as it is the slowest flier I know (especially when made from light paper like phone book paper) and can be maneuvered around in relatively tight indoor spaces.

lemonie (author)2007-03-11

Copyright Phil Rossoni, 8/7/03

Yeah, I know. But I did manage to get a link on the walkalong glider supreme commander's web site:
Thanks for informing me though...


I don't see the link (between this Instructable and your hyperlink) Are you republishing this material with permission? It just strikes me that if Phil felt like putting a copyright on the 2003 page, he might want one on this? L

Thanks Lemonie,
appears to be a different link than the other one.

royalestel (author)lemonie2007-03-15

Yeah, are you Phil, walkalong aviation? Maybe you should post your own pictures if you're not. . .

darkmotion (author)2007-03-12

So how do you work it with the trippy piece of card?

Stay tuned next time... The next instructable has got to be on how to fly. My only stumbling block is video as it will clearly show how it is done.

crapflinger (author)2007-03-12

i know that guy in the video is having fun...but he looks like a dork chasing that thing around hehehe

This guy presents serious competition:

Erik Lindemann (author)2007-03-11

That looks really fun, I wish I had an indoor space big enough for something like that.

The tumblewing flies much slower than the jumbo walkalong, especially if made from phone book paper. A 30 foot hall way is enough although the ability to go in any direction makes learning easier.

flyingwingbat1 (author)2007-03-20

Hello Phil, I figured I'd say hello here. To everyone else; the pics are of various folks flying these types of planes (me included). Phil's site is the only "gathering spot" of walkalong glider knowledge on the web from what I've seen. The videos show gliders that fly relatively fast. There are much, much slower ones, too.

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