Maple Seed Mini Glider

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Introduction: Maple Seed Mini Glider

I live in a house that has a yard with two big maples. Last fall, I collected some seeds to study and for experiments.

When I saw "Make It Fly Speed Challenge!" I asked myself "What I could make?" then I remembered the maple seeds, and I got an idea to make a simple glider.

I know, I know, maple seeds already can fly, but gliders fly differently...

Step 1: Supplies

Material

  • maple seeds
  • small thin sticks

Tools

  • scissors
  • cyanoacrylate glue
  • white glue (I used Ceys)
  • third hand (optional)

Step 2: Intermezzo: Admire Magic of Maple Seeds

Watching flying maple seeds is kind of magical experience. Stop yourself near a maple next fall...

Step 3: Glider Balance

I'm sure there is a big theory basis about gliders, but unfortunately, I don't know very much. (If you are interested and you have some spare time, you can do research.)

However, to make a toy glider able to fly, there is one simple rule: Make the center of gravity about under front wings, slightly in front of the anticipated center of lift. See the sketch above.

(When I made my first glider I balanced the glider on my finger. When the center of gravity was behind the anticipated center of lift, I glued some weight to the glider's nose.)

Step 4: Glider!

Take a thin stick with a length about equal to two wings of a maple seed. Cut off wings of two similar seeds and glue these wings to the stick on position about 1/4 of the length of the stick. You can use a small droplet of cyanoacrylate glue, and then you can secure both wings with white glue. White glue has the advantage of flexibility. (I used only the cyanoacrylate glue originally, but the glider seemed to be more fragile.) Analogically glue two small rear wings. See the pictures above.

To balance the glider, glue one seed without a wing to about the place where should be the center of gravity. As an effect, this glider still should be able to spread maple :-) (Do not overuse the glue... :-)

Step 5: Test Flight and Adjustments

When you finish your glider, it will probably fly, but it will probably not fly straight. (At least my gliders tended to fly to the left spiral at first. I think it could indicate that all maple seeds are adapted to spin in the same direction... But I still didn't do any experiments about that.)

To achieve a more straight flight, you can gently adjust wings using your fingers. Especially the position/angles of rear wings are important.

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    16 Comments

    0
    wesb
    wesb

    9 months ago

    Very nice idea. Perhaps to let you make them more quickly, you might make the stick extra-long in front, so you only have to keep snipping bits off, 'till the center of gravity is where you want. Then you don't have to mess with gluing weights in place, and can do the final trim in a few seconds.

    0
    24Hz
    24Hz

    10 months ago

    lovely!

    0
    MarPok
    MarPok

    Reply 10 months ago

    :-)

    1
    ericocean
    ericocean

    10 months ago

    Bravo, I love this, quirky, old worldly and magical!

    0
    MarPok
    MarPok

    Reply 10 months ago

    :-) Thanks

    0
    Gadisha
    Gadisha

    10 months ago

    Very nice, I love the idea.

    0
    MarPok
    MarPok

    Reply 10 months ago

    Thanks :)

    8
    JohnC430
    JohnC430

    10 months ago

    No Video? too bad. It would have been nice to see it in action.

    0
    MarPok
    MarPok

    Reply 10 months ago

    Good point. I made a video today :) See the new Step 5.

    10
    Penolopy Bulnick
    Penolopy Bulnick

    10 months ago

    This is such a lovely idea! I loved those little glider seeds :)

    How well does it fly? Do you have a video?

    0
    MarPok
    MarPok

    Reply 10 months ago

    Thank you :-)
    I've finally made a "test flight" video. See the new Step 5 :)

    0
    BettyHill
    BettyHill

    10 months ago

    Beautiful

    0
    MarPok
    MarPok

    Reply 10 months ago

    :-)

    0
    LoneGinger
    LoneGinger

    10 months ago

    I'm pretty sure the scientific term for maple seeds is 'whirly bird'.

    Fun looking project, btw. I might have to make a few this fall after seeing this. Thanks for the instructable!

    0
    pcziko
    pcziko

    Reply 10 months ago

    Actually, the scientific name is a “samara”, which sounds almost as fun as “whirly bird”.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samara_(fruit)

    3
    ddulsky
    ddulsky

    10 months ago

    Very cool, looks like something Leonardo da Vinci would have played with as a kid!