Introduction: Plane on a String

About: The Maker Studio is a museum makerspace at Science City in Kansas City, MO. To see more of our creations follow us on Instagram @The_Maker_Studio or @ScienceCityKC

Have you ever ridden in an aerial tram? a ski lift? They both ride on a cable through the air. We're making a plane that rides through the air on a string. Once you've finished your plane you can use it to move things from one side of the room to the other and conduct experiments to how the string's angle and the weight of the cargo change the blimp's speed. The plane is made out of paper so you'll have to be careful when playing with it not to crush it. For older makers see our Blimp on a String tutorial.


  • Straw
  • Paper
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Writing Utensil
  • String

Step 1: Make the Wings & Tail

The plane's wings and tail will be built on top of the straw. The string will be threaded through the straw and the plane will travel by zipping along the string. The straw will have to remain clear on both ends so make sure no paper or tape gets in the way of the openings.

You will need to cut out a larger wing and a smaller tail shape. You can fold your paper in half so that your wing is symmetrical- the same on both sides.

Tape the wings and tail onto the straw. Use a thinner piece of tape that fits better on the straw by cutting a normal piece of tape in half (see photo 3). Place one piece of tape lengthwise down the straw, overlapping onto the wing/tail piece. Then put another piece of tape in the other direction to wrap around the straw and hold the other pieces in place.

Step 2: Add Propulsion

You plane will need a way to fly through the air. We choose to make rocket engines. You can make whatever propulsion you'd like: propeller, jet engines, rockets... We made our rocket engines by wrapping rectangles around a pencil & taping it in place. Once you slide it off you have a tube.

Step 3: Add Details

Now's the time to add details to your plane. You can add fins, ropes, sensors or other instruments. It's up to you.

Step 4: Add a Basket

Now to make somewhere for your passengers to sit. You can make it look however you choose. Keep in mind that a larger basket will fit more passengers. You can attach your basket to the plane with some tape and string. It may be easier to do this while your plane is suspended on the string.

Step 5: Fly Your Plane

Cut a length of string just a bit longer that the distance your plane will travel, that way you'll have room to tie it or tape it onto things. Thread it through the straw on your plane. Test it out.

Does the plane fly when the string is level? Does the plane fly up the incline in the string without help?

Find passengers for your plane. Add your passengers. How do they effect the speed of your plane? Do they stay in the whole trip? Have fun experimenting.