Introduction: How to Make the Omniwing NeoZeta Paper Airplane
Fast and stealthy with a long range, the Omniwing NeoZeta (or simply NeoZeta) is an advanced and highly capable flying wing paper airplane.
The NeoZeta is a development of its namesake, the Omniwing Zeta, and shares much in common with it. Origami aviators who enjoyed the original Zeta should have fun with the NeoZeta as well. The NeoZeta's primary change from its basis is the usage of cardstock in its construction to increase wing rigidity, which would improve the suitability of the aircraft to mount RC equipment like the PowerUp motors.
Although it is an advanced design, the NeoZeta is easier to construct than it appears owing to its modular construction and standardized build specifications.If you'd like to make an airplane like the NeoZeta but do not have cardstock, try the Omniwing Zeta instead.
The NeoZeta was not a plane I had originally intended to publish. Instead, it was developed as a small scale demonstrator for testing work related to a larger (and ongoing) project called the "Omniwing Goliath," which is set to be substantially larger than any previous aircraft. The NeoZeta was essentially just a modification of the original Zeta with changes integrated to test certain aspects of the intended Goliath design.
Flight testing proved the NeoZeta a capable flier and I decided I would share the NeoZeta after coming to realize the modification had potential of its own to origami aviators.
TAA USAF Designation: F3-6E
Step 1: Materials
6 pieces of 8.5 inch by 11 inch letter paper
2 pieces of 8.5 inch by 11 inch cardstock paper
2 Post-Its (3 inch by 3 inch)
Step 2: Making the Leading Edges
The primary material used on this page will be the two sheets of cardstock.
With two pieces of 8.5 by 11 inch cardstock paper, align both over top of one another flush. Apply tape to one of the width sides to connect the two as shown. (Photographs 1 to 2)
Measure 3 inches from the opposite corner along the length side of the paper and make a mark. Along the edge of the paper, measure 2 inches from the same corner along the width and make a mark as pictured. After doing this, make a diagonal line between these marks and cut while both paper are aligned over top of one another (the small pieces that are cut away may be discarded). This should result in the papers being symmetrical about the taped center line. (Photographs 3 to 9)
Along the width, measure 0.5 inches back from the mark made previously and make another mark. Along the length, measure 0.75 inches. Fold down the paper so the crease connects these two marks and repeat on the other side. (Photographs 10 to 14)
Repeating the process, measure 1 inch back from the crease along the width and mark and measure 0.625 inches from the crease along the length edge and make a mark. Once again, connect the new marks with a diagonal fold. (Photographs 15 to 19)
After completing the last fold, measure 0.625 inches from the crease along the width and mark; then measure 1 inch down from the crease along the length and make a mark. Make another diagonal fold to connect these two marks and repeat on the other side. (Photographs 20 to 24)
After completing the last fold, measure 0.5 inches from the crease along the width and mark; then measure 2 inches down from the crease along the length and make a mark. Make a fold to connect these two marks and repeat on the other side. (Photographs 25 to 29)
After completing the last fold, fold between the forward corner of the taped center edge to the wingtip without creasing the existing folds again. (Photographs 30 to 32)
Step 3: Making the Trailing Edges
While the aircraft is folded in half along its taped center crease, measure 3 inches forward of the trailing edge at center crease and make a mark. Measure 1 inch forward of the trailing edge along the wingtip and make a mark. (Photographs 1 to 2)
Connect these marks with a diagonal line. Before cutting, apply a paper clip to the outer airfoil sections as shown to hold the wing sections together. Cut along the diagonal line and save the pieces of paper you cut off. These will become part of the aircraft's skin later (SK-1). (Photographs 3 to 5)
Measure 4 inches from the center crease along the trailing edge and make a mark. Measure a further 3 inches from this mark and make another mark. Parallel with the center crease, measure 0.375 inches inward from each mark and make lines to the trailing edge. From the outboard mark, measure 0.125 inches toward the inboard mark and make another mark as shown. Connect this new mark with the outboard line's inner end. Repeat this process on the other side. Do not make any cuts to these lines, they are provisions for later. (Photographs 6 to 13)
To make the Zeta's trim tabs, measure 0.375 inches forward of the trailing edge along the wingtip and make a mark on each side. Do not adjust the trim tabs at this point. (Photographs 14 to 15)
Step 4: Making the Support Structure: SS-1
With another sheet of paper, fold the paper in half along its width and length to divide it into fourths. (Photographs 1 to 5)
Using one of these fourths, fold this piece into fourths as well. Fold it in half along the length and width, then fold the lengths into fourths and then over top of one another as pictured. Along the width half fold, make the crease more visible with a pencil marking. (This piece will now be identified as SS-1.) (Photographs 6 to 12)
Measure 0.75 inches inward from each side along the crease edge and make marks. Between these two marks, make a solid line. Continue over this length with the pencil until it goes through and makes a slit out of the solid line. (Photographs 13 to 22)
Step 5: Making the Support Structure: SS-2
With another sheet of paper, fold the paper in half along its width and length to divide it into fourths. After folding the paper in half along its length, fold the creases that have resulted to divide the paper into eighths along its length. Cut it in half along the width half crease to produce two of the desired support parts. (These pieces will now be identified as SS-2.) (Photographs 1 to 12)
Along each of the SS-2 pieces, measure 0.5 inches from the corner along the side that is split open and make a mark. Make a diagonal line connecting this mark to the crease side's corner. Then cut the section outboard of the line away. These two pieces should have the cut edges mirror one another--they are left and right handed mark the left handed piece as SS-2L and the right handed piece as SS-2R. (Photographs 13 to 20)
Make a third SS-2 by using another sheet of paper, fold the paper in half along its width and length to divide it into fourths. After folding the paper in half along its length, fold the creases that have resulted to divide the paper into eighths along its length. Cut it in half along the width half crease to produce two of the desired support parts. One of the two pieces will be used as the SS-2C part, the other is surplus. At this stage, undo the last half fold so its angled edge is mirrored and mark this piece as SS-2C. (Photographs 21 to 39)
Step 6: Making the Support Structure: SS-3
With a new sheet of paper, fold the paper in half along its width and length to divide it into fourths. After doing this, fold one of the length sides into the length center crease. After doing so, cut along the length-wise center crease. Keep the remaining paper below--this will become SS-4. (Photographs 1 to 7)
With this new piece, again fold these length sides into the center crease to create new fourth folds. Fold the fourths over top of one another flush and identify one of these sides as SS-3L and the other as SS-3R (place these markings next to the width half fold as shown). With this done, cut along the width half fold to bisect the paper. (Photographs 8 to 18)
On SS-3L, measure 2.25 inches from the side with the identifying mark on it along the open side of the paper. On SS-3R, measure 2.25 inches from the side with the identifying mark on it along the open side of the paper. (Photographs 19 to 20)
Step 7: Making the Support Structure: SS-4
Using the half sheet of paper that was saved as noted in the previous step, fold the paper into halves along its length three times over, as was done with the SS-3 pieces in the previous step. (Photographs 1 to 5)
Use the extent remains of the width half fold from the paper's original fourth folding to identify the centerpoint; mark this line well enough that it is easily visible. (Photograph 6)
Step 8: Making the Support Structure: SS-5
With another sheet of paper, fold the paper in half along its width and length to divide it into fourths. After folding the paper in half along its length, fold the creases that have resulted to divide the paper into eighths along its length. Cut it in half along the width half crease to produce two of the desired support parts. After doing this, fold the outer creases of each side into the center crease again. (Photographs 1 to 14)
Select which side will be forward part for each side and write the identification information on each as shown. On the creased side, measure 0.5 inches back from the forward edge and make a mark. On the open side, measure 0.3125 inches from the forward edge and make a mark. Connect these two marks with a diagonal line. Cut along these diagonal lines. (Photographs 15 to 23)
From the rear side opposite where you have made the previous marks and cuts, measure 2.25 inches forward along the creased side and make a mark. Measure 0.625 inches forward and make a mark. With the creased section laid out, unfolded in its halves, make a solid line connecting all of these two marks along the crease they sit on. Run the pencil between the two marks until the paper gives way in that section and the pencil breaks through. (Photographs 24 to 36)
Once this slit has been created in the SS-5 pieces, test that the SS-4 piece may slide through both of these slits. (Photograph 37)
Step 9: Refining the Rear Support Structure
To improve their fit on the aircraft, we must revisit and trim the SS-2C and SS-5 parts. (Photograph 1)
Begin with the SS-2C part by folding it along its center crease again. Measure 0.125 inches up the center crease from the trailing edge and make a mark. Along the outer edge, measure 0.125 inches up from the trailing edge and make a mark. Connect these two marks with a solid line perpendicular to the edges. With the line made, cut along it. You may discard the small bit you cut off. (Photographs 2 to 5)
On the creased edges of the SS-5s, measure 0.0625 inches up from the trailing edge and make a mark. On the open edges, measure 0.375 inches from the trailing edge and make a mark. Connect these two marks with a solid line. Cut along this solid line. Discard the small chunks you have separated. (Photographs 6 to 14)
Once again put the SS-4 piece through SS-5L/R and under SS-2C to confirm that the parts fit as designed. They should look as they do in the photograph if they are fitted properly. (Photographs 15 to 16)
Step 10: Taping the Rear Structure
Flip the assembly over to invert it; properly align and then tape SS-4 where it passes under SS-2C. After this is done, secure the SS-5L/R pieces by applying tape along the length they sit over SS-2C. The taping should be done in the order noted. (Photographs 1 to 2)
With the underside has been taken care of, flip the assembly over again. Apply tape to the front of the SS-2C piece where designated. Then tape the SS-5L/R flaps down on the upper side as well. (Photographs 3 to 4)
Fit the SS-1 piece over the forward edge of this assembly once you have done all of the above. (Photographs 5 to 6)
Step 11: Taping the Forward Structure
Place the SS-2L and SS-2R pieces next to one another flush, open them and apply tape to their lower inner meeting point as shown in the third photograph. To enhance strength, flip the assembly over and apply tape to the opposite side of where you just applied tape for the previous instruction of this step. (Photographs 1 to 5)
Along the outer edges on each side, measure 0.0625 inches along the tips and trailing edges of both the SS-2L and SS-2R pieces. Cut off the paper behind these marks on each side after completing them. (Photographs 6 to 11)
Install the SS-3L assembly into the SS-2L piece by pushing the SS-3L pieces in to where the marks you previously made with the edge of SS-2L. Apply tape where designated in the photograph. Install the SS-3R assembly into the SS-2R piece by pushing the SS-3R pieces in to where the marks you previously made with the edge of SS-2R. Apply tape where designated in the photograph. (Photographs 12 to 15)
Step 12: Uniting the Structural Supports
Bring the forward and rear structural assemblies together as shown. Apply tape along the leading edges of the rear assembly where shown in the second and third photographs. (Photographs 1 to 3)
To complete the assembly, tuck the trailing parts of the SS-2s into the SS-4 while the SS-4's own edges should be tucked into the SS-3s as shown in the fourth and fifth photographs. (Photographs 4 to 5)
Begin folding SS-1 forward and apply tape on the SS-2L/R pieces to the SS-5L/R pieces as shown in the seventh and eighth photographs. After doing this, fold the SS-1 piece forward and tape it down to secure it to the SS-2s. (Photographs 6 to 10)
Once you have completed this folding, you will need to apply tape where designated in the photographs. Once you have made all the necessary applications of tape, the internal structure should look as it does in the last photograph. (Photographs 10 to 29)
Step 13: Making the Skin
For this step, you will be using the cardstock pieces you retained from step 3.
Keep both skin pieces together, flush with one another when making these changes throughout this step.
Along the straight trailing edge, measure 0.75 inches upward from the center crease and make a mark. Then connect this mark with the meeting point of the leading edge and center crease with a diagonal line. (Photographs 1 to 3)
Along the swept leading edge, measure 3.75 inches inward from the outer tips and make a mark. Along the straight trailing edge, measure 5.5 inches from the outer tips and make a mark. Connect these two marks with a diagonal line. (Photographs 4 to 7)
Cut along the first and second diagonal lines you made and discard the noted portions to complete the skin pieces. (Photographs 8 to 9)
Step 14: Applying the Skin
Align the two skin pieces over the leading edges of the structure as shown in the first two photographs. After this, apply four pieces of tape along the leading edge span of the skin, connecting it to the SS-2 pieces. In addition, the trailing edge should be taped down at the SS-2C/SS-5L joint. After repeating this on the other side, the skin is secured on its upper side properly. (Photographs 1 to 5)
To tape its underside properly, first pull the Zeta's skin under itself until it reaches its limits as shown in the eight and ninth photos. Apply tape as pictured where the skin overlaps with the SS-2/SS-3/SS-4 joints. (Photographs 6 to 12)
Step 15: Making the Vertical Stabilizers
With your two Post-Its, place them up against one another by having them sit together, connected by placing their adhesive bits onto one another. They two should look and sit as if they are one. (Photographs 1 to 2)
Measure from one end to the other and make three marks at each inch along the adhesive side. From each of these marks, measure 0.3125 inches into the Post It before stopping to make another mark. (See below for a note about this bit.) Make two lines that extend 1 inch further from each of the previous marks. After doing this, make a perpendicular line that intersects with then end of the two vertical lines. Measure 0.75 inches from these lines in the manner shown. Proceed to then connect these lines diagonally with the intersections as pictured. (Photographs 3 to 5)
Once this has been done, cut the fins out and then fold them in the manner shown. (Photographs 6 to 7)
The last photograph displays the positioning of how the fins will sit later. (Photograph 8)
Note: the size of the adhesive portion of the Post-It varies. As a result, the measurement (given here as 0.3125 inches) may also vary. Your measurement should correspond with that area's depth as determined by your Post-Its--though 0.3125 inches is the minimum size.
Step 16: Fitting the Internal Structure and Applying the Fins
Apply tape as shown to both sides of the center joint between the two sheets of the wing's surface. (Photographs 1 to 4)
Insert the completed internal structure assembly underneath the wing's airfoil folds. Tape the internal structure in at 3 points on each side, where indicated in the photographs. After this is done, the internal structure will be secured in at its front. Tape along the trailing edges of the internal structure's skin panels. (Photographs 5 to 9)
After this is done, fold the wings' leading edges over the internal structure and tape them down as shown in the order noted. (Photographs 10 to 13)
With the leading edges taped, flip the airframe over and apply tape at the rear edge of the internal structure assembly and connect it with the airframe by folding the tape over the edge. (Photographs 14 to 15)
Gather the vertical stabilizers you made on the previous step. The swept back edges of the fins will all face forward. The adhesive portions of the fins should be as shown:
- the middle and outboard stabilizers on each side should follow the elevator provision lines made earlier in step 3
- the two inboard stabilizers' adhesive portions should be inserted under the SS-5/SS-2C assembly as shown. (Photographs 17)
When this is done, the fins should look as they do in the eighteenth and nineteenth phototgraphs.
When all of the fins have been placed into position, fold them down so that you may flip the wing without damaging them. Flip the wing over and cut off the excess of the the middle fins on each side. (Photographs 20 to 22)
This will complete the Omniwing NeoZeta's airframe.
Step 17: Flight
The airframe of your Omniwing NeoZeta has now completed and you now have a very elegant, aerodynamic and stealthy paper airplane unlike most others.
The NeoZeta should not be "thrown"--instead, it should be advanced forward through the air and then released at moderate to high speed at a neutral (level to the ground) or very slightly positive attitude (upward from the ground angle).
To do this, at launch hold the NeoZeta with your index and middle fingers above the wing with your ring finger and thumb below the wing.
The Omniwing NeoZeta is an advanced paper airplane and its shape means it may require more adjustments than the average paper airplane before it is flying exactly as you intend it to. Thus, I have these troubleshooting tips for new NeoZeta fliers:
- If the aircraft pitches down/up or banks during its test flight, you may need to adjust the trim tabs at wingtips along the trailing edge
- Bend them forward to the mark you made earlier but avoid creasing them. See the fourth to seventh photographs for pictures of these trim tabs. Adjust the setting of these trim tabs based on test flight performance.
- As a matter of last resort--if the trim tabs are insufficient on their own--you can also make the elevators which provisions were made for earlier. (Note: examples I constructed have not required elevators; I recommend against making the elevators unless they are absolutely necessary because the cuts will weaken the trailing edge.) To make the elevators:
- Cut along the inboard solid lines on each side then the angled outboard solid line to complete the elevator cuts. Connect the two endpoints of these cuts with a crease. Appropriate deflection of the elevators will be something that you must determine and adjust with test flights.
- If yaw (left/right) stability or performance is a concern, adjust the vertical stabilizers' trimming as necessary per test flights
Participated in the
Make It Fly Speed Challenge