Introduction: How to Make the StarDragon Paper Airplane

About: I am someone who mass produces paper airplanes and am always developing new designs. I post regular updates on Twitter. Follow me there to keep up with the latest developments!
The StarDragon is a small, fast, long range paper airplane designed as a successor to the popular StratoDragon sailplane. Although its wingspan is half that of the StratoDragon, the StarDragon can fly just as far at a faster rate and its airframe uses less material too.

I began designing the StarDragon in November 2012, shortly after the StratoBolt. I noticed that the StratoDragon was quite popular, but obsolescent and overly large. I set to work to address this by designing a new sailplane with greater capabilities. To accomplish this higher performance and retain commonality with comparable airplanes, I recycled much of the airframe design of the StratoBolt and then designed the new aircraft's wing. The prototype flew well, and an instructable slot was earmarked for it.

The StarDragon is quite capable, and can be used by educators easily.

Some usages for educators could include studies of:
  • Glide ratio
  • Hangtime versus other aircraft
  • Weight and balance
TAA USAF Designation: D269-1

Step 1: Materials

1 Piece of 8 by 10.5 inch graph paper (4 boxes per inch)

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--10 full boxes apart. Use a ruler to make a straight line with the length of 10 boxes directly up 1 row of boxes from the two marks you just made. Then make the rudder and counterweight as shown. Follow the photograph markings. Then, mark out the wing spars and landing gear. From the back, measure 1 box forward and make a solid line 2 boxes long. Measure 1 box back from the beginning of this horizontal line and mark out a dotted vertical line. Once all is marked out, cut out the fuselage. Along the bottom of the fuselage, measure 4 boxes from the back. At the back, measure 0.5 boxes above the bottom of the fuselage. Then make a diagonal line connecting these two marks.

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 (3 boxes of chord at the root, by 5 boxes in width, with a leading edge sweep of 3 boxes of chord eliminated every 5 boxes away from the fuselage root and a trailing edge sweep of 1 box of chord every 5 boxes from the root). Then cut the wing out. Measure 2 boxes along the crease, measure two boxes upwards from one mark and make another point. Then draw a diagonal line connecting this new mark to the one further away. From the mark you just made, measure one box further away from the one now connected to the line and make a mark. Sketch a line between this mark and the other mark along the crease. Then cut the horizontal stabilizers out.

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

Note: 1 box = 0.25 inches

Step 3: Making the Fuselage

Cut out your fuselage and fold the counterweight into itself as shown. Then unfold the fuselage and cut the right vertical stabilizer off. Then restore the fold. Fold the fuselage forward at the vertical line on the vertical stabilizer. Once you have made the cut along the marked line, unfold. Now cut along the diagonal line at the keel of the airframe. Once this is done, fold down the spars and skids. Then apply tape where designated.

Step 4: Applying the Wings and Horizontal Stabilizers; Stapling

Cut out your wings and lay them out flat. Align the fuselage over top so the spars align with the wing as shown. Then apply tape. Cut off any excess. Flip the aircraft over and apply tape to the leading edge of the wing above the leading edge root extensions.

Once you have finished with the wings, cut out your horizontal stabilizers and slide them through the slit in the fuselage you made earlier. When through, fold them up and apply tape to the underside; then fold down.

Then apply one staple in the area of the counterweight. This will have completed your aircraft.

Step 5: Flight

The StarDragon is a fast little airplane, and can fly long ranges quite easily. Launches at moderate to speed at a positive, neutral or negative attitude will result in best performance, though elevator trim changes may be necessary. Additional applicable surfaces include slats, flaps, elevators, a trimmable rudder and air brakes. Enjoy!

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