Easy Cardboard Airplane That Flies

Introduction: Easy Cardboard Airplane That Flies

In this project, I made a simple and easy cardboard airplane. My final goal is to add motors to this airplane and use a one channel IR transceiver for control. Before adding the motors, the airplane is used as a glider.

First you need a scissors, a glue gun, a ruler, and some cardboard sheets.

Despite I have a lot of airplane plans, I decided to draw the plan myself. I am trying to prove the following idea: anyone can make an airplane that flies if s/he respects the flight conditions. In my opinion, the flight conditions of an airplane are: light design, curved and big wings, aerodynamic shape, and the center of gravity location. The wings should be big enough to lift the design, and the center of gravity should be located under the wings at the middle of the fuselage.

Please write in the comments any other conditions that you think we have to respect in order to make airplanes capable of flying.

Step 1: Cut the Fuselage

After drawing the airplane silhouette on an A4 white sheet, I cut it then use it to draw two mirrored copies with a small blank distance in between. The two copies are almost identical because the same silhouette is used as pattern.

The mirrored drawing is cut, and used to draw the airplane double silhouette on a cardboard sheet.

The shape on the cardboard is then cut. This is the fuselage of our airplane.

The aerodynamic shape of the fuselage is ensured by cutting some parts of the blank distance between the two airplane shapes.

Step 2: Bending and Glueing

The two airplane shapes are bended and glued. Different stands can be improvised to hold the project while the glue is drying.

First glue the airplane sides 90 degrees with the bottom, then glue the sides together with the bottom to form the tail part.

Now, cut and glue a cardboard piece that fits to the upper part of the airplane.

Step 3: The Wing

In this step we are going to make the wing. Cut a rectangular cardboard shape, with its length not less than the fuselage length. If you plan to use the airplane as a glider, it is better to make the wing with greater width.

Once cut, you have to bend the wing so it creates the lift force needed to lift the airplane.

Kindly check "How does an airplane wing generate lift?":




Hold the wings with your two hands and bend it across the table with your fingers. Now continue bending the wing while handling it inside your palms to fit it on the top of the airplane.

Step 4: Glue the Wing in Place

Glue the wing on the top of the fuselage; pay attention to the shape of the wing. Hold the wing in place until the glue cures.

Step 5: Finishing

The airplane is now ready, we still have to adjust the location of its center of gravity. As stated before, the CoG should be placed under the wing at the middle of the fuselage. For more scientific approach, check:


I didn't use this handbook in this project and everything was improvised, even the plan.

To adjust the CoG location, try to balance the airplane on a ruler. The point at which the airplane is balanced represents its CoG. If the CoG is located behind the wing, add Plasticine (or any other type of modelling clay) to the front of the airplane to shift the CoG to the desired location. On the other hand, if the CoG is in front of the wing (I am not sure if this may happen) add clay to the end of the airplane.

After setting the CoG at its proper location, you can add landing gears and paint your airplane.

Step 6: Fly Your Airplane... Similar Projects...

You can make simpler airplanes using the same procedure. The small airplane in the figures above took 3 hours of work, and the big airplane took about one hour of work, and all are flying (as a glider). I still have to add a motor with a propeller and the control circuit with a battery. Pay attention that the location of the CoG should remain under the wing, even after adding extra weights. Add/remove parts from the clay in order to maintain the location of the CoG.

As can be seen in the second figure above, the wing of the airplane is not 100% symmetric. This produces undesirable turns during flight. To overcome these turns, add aileron or flaps (a small piece of cardboard) on the upper side of the wing as shown in the last figure above. For my airplane, I fly it indoor only and it doesn't need flaps because the flying distance is short.

Check the videos on youtube:

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