Introduction: Blowpipe - Paper Plane Launcher

Make a simple paper plane launcher that allows a repeatable, controlled launch and facilitates study of changes to the plane's control surfaces with minimal launch variables.

1 meter of 18mm PVC pipe or similar
A4 paper
sticky tape
a plastic or wooden bead


15 minutes


This launcher is a blowpipe, with a plane being driven by a blocked tube of paper formed around the outside of a PVC pipe.

A. Making the body of the plane.

Using 1 meter of 18mm PVC pipe as a former, take a sheet of A4 paper and roll that paper lengthwise into a tube around the PVC pipe. Ensure the paper tube can slip over the PVC pipe easily, but without leaving a large gap between paper and pipe. Secure the paper tube along its length with sticky tape - be careful the sticky tape doesn't tighten up the paper tube to the PVC pipe.

Slide the paper tube to the end of the PVC pipe and fold the last 10mm of the paper over to form a cap on the paper tube. Secure the cap with 1 piece of sticky tape.

Working with the paper tube on the PVC pipe, rest a small bead on top of the folded paper cap and tightly secure it in place with more sticky tape.... lots more sticky tape.... the more the merrier. This will reinforce the nose of the plane.

You now have the main body of your plane. Test the paper tube's clearance and cap's seal by blowing hard down the PVC pipe; the paper tube should shoot off quickly and easily, so don't point it at anyone.

B. Add some wings...

Put the paper tube back onto the PVC pipe, then make your favourite paper plane and attach it centrally to the paper tube with more sticky tape front and back. You won't need the longitudinal stiffening folds that you would normally include in the plane, so leave related steps out of construction... Basically, you just need to fold your paper into the shape of wings.

C. Fly your plane...

Blow down the PVC tube to launch your plane!

For controlled launches, attach the PVC pipe to a solid surface such as a desk or table using plenty of wide sticky tape. Ensure the PVC pipe cannot move at all then tilt the table with blocks under its feet, blow down the tube, and launch your plane. 
Keep a diary of changes to control surfaces and design and following effects of changes to study each plane's flight.

We found that large delta wings fly best with a strong but slow pressure, while longer and narrower planes launch well with a very quick blast of air. Drinks bottle "Stomp Rocket" launchers attached to the blowpipe work well with narrower planes.

To make a "Stomp Rocket " launcher, attach an empty plastic bottle to a length of garden hose, then fix the garden hose to the PVC pipe. Stamp/push/press on the empty bottle and the expelled air launches the plane.

Enjoy, and please feel free to link to this Instructable with any further development ideas or designs.

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Phnom Penh