Introduction: How to Make the Super Cardinal Paper Airplane

About: Paper airplane maker: 400+ designs so far and more in development!
Designed to follow its namesake, the Super Cardinal paper airplane features a very similar layout and even better performance with a far more modern appearance and accurate layout. This aircraft is fast and long range, and is my smallest cruiser, having a shorter length of just 2.75 inches and a wingspan of a mere 2 inches.

I began the design phase for an augmented Cardinal in late 2011 to update the small cruiser with newer features like the "Super Manx"-type empennage. This was due primarily to answer requests to do away with the tandem biplane arrangement of the original Cardinal, and to more closely replicate aircraft by having the vertical stabilizer sit above the horizontal stabilizer. During December 2011, testing proved somewhat trying as an early prototype resisted the new tail fins. Because of these delays, I designed the Super Voyager as an interim aircraft. After the tremendous success of the Super Voyager, I shelved the Super Cardinal project until restarting work on it in mid-March 2012. Upon reapproaching the prototype, I decided to scrap the existing design and go with a new one. Testing went well and the aircraft proved itself an excellent performer.

Like the original Cardinal, this aircraft is very capable, and can be used in classrooms easily. Using the Super Cardinal would be a great way to introduce students to aviation due to its simplicity and versatility.

Some potential experiments possible with the Super Cardinal include:
  • Glide ratio
  • Weight and balance
  • Hangtime versus other aircraft
  • How surface inequality can affect aircraft (geometry/shape studies)
  • Physics experiments
TAA USAF Designation: D215-1

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--11 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 rudder, spars, landing gear and counterweight as shown. Follow the photograph markings. 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 (3 boxes in length, each with an intersection sweep of 1/4 (1 box length lost for every 4 boxes outward from the fuselage.). Then cut it out. Then mark and cut out the horizontal stabilizers as shown (2 boxes in width, 1 box in length with a swept portion of 1 box of length decaying every 2 boxes of width).

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

Note: 1 box = 0.25 inches

Step 3: Making the Fuselage

After having cut out all of the fuselage, cut the extra vertical stabilizer off and begin folding it along the dotted lines. Then fold the 2 rearmost boxes forward and cut along the line. Do this by folding the fuselage to the right, making a cut, and folding to the left. Then tape your fuselage together at the front, back, and across the fuselage at the fin.

Step 4: Applying the Horizontal Stabilizers and Wings

Cut out the horizontal stabilizers and string them through the cut below the rudder made earlier. Then fold them up and apply tape as shown. Once the horizontal stabilizers have been finished, cut the wing out as shown. Then apply the fuselage to the bottom of the wing with tape. Cut off any excess tape. Your Super Cardinal is now complete.

Step 5: Flight

The Super Cardinal is a simple drone paper airplane that is very forgiving and easy to fly. Launches of moderate speed at any attitude are possible, though range is generally reduced by launches at positive attitude. Additional applicable surfaces include elevators, a trimmable rudder and air brakes. Enjoy!

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