Introduction: Rubber Band Powered Flying Airplane

This project shows you how to build a simple rubber band powered airplane using household materials.

Step 1: Gather All Your Tools and Materials

  • Glue - craft glue and hot glue if you have it
  • Rubber Bands - 7-10 it depends how long you make your frame
  • Wire or a paperclip
  • Old pen
  • Kebab sticks
  • Skewers
  • Clear plastic
  • Circular beads
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Craft Knife - optional
  • Cutting mat

Step 2: Prepping the Wings

Start by cutting off any sharp ends - you can do this by using a craft knife or your scissors (cut about 4 of the skewers and know that more might be used later on). You then want to split the skewer in half and then half it again horizontally so you now have 4 pieces instead of 1 - this step could get dangerous (I cut my finger while slicing the wood, so just be careful). Next measure out two 10cm by 23cm rectangles - using the 1/4 pieces of skewer.

Step 3: Finishing the Wings

Once your 2 rectangle pieces are glued, you will need to attach the clear plastic to the backs of both of them. Do this by laying out the piece of plastic you are using and then stick both rectangles on next to each - but not touching. Leave them to dry - until they look strong enough to not fall apart when you pick them up. Next, you can cut the excess plastic that surrounds the wood so you are just left with the plastic inside the rectangle.

Step 4: Gluing the Wings

For this next step, you will need to glue the 2 rectangles together on an angle. You can achieve this by propping each side up with equal amounts of matchboxes books or really anything that will hold them up. Wait for them to dry then while leaving them in their propped up position attach a 6-7cm piece of the sliced skewer in between the 2 two rectangles on both sides - these will support the wings to keep their shape. Next, make a 10cm by 6cm rectangle out of the sliced skewer - this time without plastic in the middle. To finish the wings off, glue this rectangle in the middle of the 2 bigger rectangles that make up the main part of the wings.

Step 5: Making the Tail

Start by cutting a 27cm piece of the skewer. Next, make a 10cm by 20cm rectangle. Then glue the rectangle onto your clear plastic, wait for it to dry and then cut off the excess plastic. Once this has dried glue the rectangle onto the 27cm piece.

Once you have the main part of the tail all finished you can make the rudder. To achieve this, you need to cut 2 x 7cm, 1 x 4cm and 1 x 5.5cm piece of the split skewer. Glue them together with the two 7cm pieces on each side and the 4cm and the 5.5cm pieces on the top and the bottom - check out the photos if you're unsure. Next glue the shape onto your clear plastic, wait for it to dry and then cut off the excess plastic. Then all you need to do is glue the rudder on the main part of the tail, the straight side pointing towards the back of the plane - check the photos.

Step 6: Making the Propeller

To make the propeller, start by cutting a 7cm piece of the skewer. Next get out your ruler and mark lines at 3cm, 3.5cm and 4cm. Then wind thread - any colour works - around the 3cm line and the 4cm finishing each with a bit of glue or by tying it off - look at the photos if you're unsure. Now, find a reasonably sharp object like a pin or a pen to make a hole through the 3.5cm line.

Next, bend the end of your wire - or paperclip - so it curls on itself and you're left with a tiny ring on the end. The piece of wire should now be around 3.5cm long. Then you need to place 1 bead on the wire so it is touching the ring on the end. Once that is in place cut about 1.5cm off the end of an old pen, place this on top of the bead and then place a second bead on top of it. So now it should look like bead, pen part, bead. Once your wire is ready, glue the straight end into the hole you have made in the skewer. Make sure that the wire is underneath the rounded part of the skewer and that the flat part is on the top.

Now that the propeller axis you can now cut out the pieces of paper that will allow your plane to fly. To do this, start by cutting out two 7cm by 2cm rectangles out of card. Next, take 1 of the rectangle and cut a line starting at the bottom about 1cm in and cut a curved line that finishes at the top at about 1.5cm. Then all you need to do is round the top and repeat for the other rectangle, just check the photos if you're unsure. The last thing you need to do with the card uses your thumbs to bend it in a way that is can catch air - I just roughly bent it in half so it now resembles more the shape of a semicircle. Lastly, glue both pieces of card onto the propeller axis so that the straight parts are the pieces attached to the wood. Make sure they are facing in opposite directions to each other.

Step 7: Putting It All Together

Start by cutting off any sharp ends that may be on your kebab sticks. First, find the thickest part of your skewer and cut a piece the same length as the plastic part of the old pen on the propeller axis. Once it cut to glue the piece of wood onto the piece of old pen plastic. Next, take out another skewer with the sharp ends cut off and glue the propeller onto it - check the photo to make sure you have it right. To make sure the two pieces are bonded really well together add a layer of thread around the pieces.

Once the front part is all stuck together grab your tail and glue the clear end to the clear end of the front part. Once again just to reinforce the bond between the two pieces put a layer of thread around them. Now that the main body stuck nicely together use your finger to find the centre of gravity and mark it with a pen. Then grab a ruler and measure and mark 5cm each way. Next, get the wings you made before and glue them so they line up with the points you just made. Again strengthen the bond with some thread. Lastly, add a hook to the connection you just made. You can just glue it on and maybe add some thread as reinforcement.

Now that everything is put together you need to add the rubber bands. Start by joining 6 rubber bands together by tying them in a knot. The hook one side of the chain to the hook you just made and the other side to the ring attached to the end of the propeller axis. If you are struggling to get the band into ringside all you need to do is open it up, but the band inside and then close the circle again. Do the same with the hook side, open it so that the band fits and then close it so that the band won't come out.

Step 8: Making It Fly

To make your plane fly all you need to do is twist the propeller so that the rubber bands are twisting and then once you let the propeller go time it so you also throw the plane to get it started. If you're unsure which way to twist the propeller do a little test by blowing on the paper and seeing which way it moves if it moves away from you twist it towards yourself and if it moves towards you, twist it away from yourself - you may have to turn the plane for the propeller to move.

Rubber Band Speed Challenge

Participated in the
Rubber Band Speed Challenge