Introduction: How to Make the Orion Paper Airplane

About: Paper airplane maker: 400+ designs so far and more in development!
Designed as an homage to the "Teen Series" of American fighters, the Orion doubles as a small, working paper airplane interceptor with trapezoidal wings, like those of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, F/A-18 Hornet, and F/A-18E Super Hornet fighter jets it is a tribute to.

The homage was originally somewhat unintentional, though it was advantageous to switch from delta to trapezoidal-shaped wings for reasons of drag and versatility on these little drones; as was the case with the "Teen Series" as it followed the "Century Series".   

As far as uses for this airplane go, the possibilities are enormous. It can be used as a high speed, long range interceptor; research testbed; or stunt plane among other roles.

Some usages for educators could include studies of:
  • Glide ratio
  • Hangtime versus other aircraft
  • Weight and balance

TAA USAF Designation: D166-1

Step 1: Materials

1 Piece of 8 by 10.5 inch graph paper

Step 2: 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--13 full boxes apart. Use a ruler to make a straight line with the length of 13 boxes directly up 1 row of boxes from the two marks you just made. Then make the elevators, rudder and counterweight as shown. Follow the photograph markings. Then, two boxes back from the rear of the counterweight, mark a line that stretches 3 boxes further back. 1.5 boxes back from the beginning of this line, make a dotted line vertically. Once all is marked out, cut out the fuselage.

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 (2 boxes in length by 4 boxes in width, and a swept portion in front of this box of 1 box eliminated every 4 boxes away from the fuselage). Half of a box in from the wingtip, make a dotted line parallel to the wingtip. Then cut it out.

Solid lines indicate places to cut. Dotted lines indicate fold lines.

: 1 box = 0.25 inches

Step 3: Making the Rudder

Begin making your rudder by separating it from the elevators. Then cut one of the two layers of paper where the rudder should be off (I usually cut off the left myself). After you've cut these 6 boxes (3 by 2) off, you may discard them.

Step 4: Making and Taping the Fuselage

After having cut out all of the fuselage. Begin folding it along the dotted lines. After you've folded all the lines correctly, you should now cut along the line in the middle of the fuselage. Do this by folding the fuselage to the right, making a cut, and repeating the fold to the left. Then tape your fuselage together at the front, back, tailplane leading edge and across the counterweight fold.

Step 5: Applying the Wing and Making the Winglets

Now it is time to work with your Orion's wing. Separate the fuselage around the cut you made. Then put the wing through the fuselage and pull half of it through. Then fold the two halves up on each side of the fuselage. Then apply a small piece of tape to the underside of the wings while they are folded up flush with the fuselage. Once this is done, fold the winglets down along those half box marks you made on the wingtips.

Unfold your wings, winglets and horizontal stabilizers and you have completed your Orion!

Step 6: Flight

Like most other fast interceptor paper airplanes, the Orion requires a swift launch. For the best speed and range performance, launch your Orion at a pitch upwards of no more than 20 degrees. The Orion can be launched at neutral or negative pitches, though this generally reduces performance. Additional surfaces such as flaps, flaperons, ailerons, elevators and a trimmable rudder can be put on an Orion airframe. Later, you may want to try the smaller Super Orion too! Enjoy!
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