Introduction: The Best Paper Airplane

Playing with paper airplanes has always been an enjoyable activity for young and old. The paper airplane is said to have been invented by the Chinese in about 400 BC. It's been a great educational toy ever since then! Even the Wright Brothers used paper airplanes to build models of their first actual airplanes.

This paper airplane (pictured above) is simple to make and it performs better than any other paper plane I've made. No previous paper airplane experience is needed. This instructable will guide you through the steps of how to fold it, and then modify it so you can make your own great design!

Step 1: Materials Needed

What you will need to make this airplane:

-A 8.5 x 11 piece of paper (any paper will do, but I prefer to use printer paper, which hasn't been three-hole punched)

-Scotch Tape (optional)

-Two hands

-A willingness to keep trying if you don't succeed the first time.

Step 2: Fold in Half

Fold the paper in half lengthwise (some call this "hot dog style") and open it back up again. Ensure that the crease made by the fold is visible.

Step 3: Fold in Top Corners

Fold the top corners in to the middle crease you made during the previous step. Try to keep these two folds as even and symmetrical as possible. The edges that you folded in should be touching each other, which will make a triangle at the top of your paper.

Step 4: Fold the Top Point Down

Fold the point of the triangle down. I've found that the plane performs best if the shape made by this downward fold is another perfect triangle. Don't worry if your fold isn't perfect--it should still work just fine as long as the shape you made closely resembles a triangle.

Step 5: Fold in Top Corners So the Points Touch

This is similar to Step 3. However, instead of having the the edges completely touch in the middle, fold the top corners in such that only the corners meet at the middle crease. Your paper should look like the picture above, with a little triangle shape showing underneath the touching corners. Once your paper looks similar to the picture, tightly crease these two folds.

Step 6: Fold Up Little Triangle

Remember the little triangle shape mentioned in the previous step? Fold it up and tightly crease so it holds the corners down. You can also use a small piece of scotch tape to hold these folds down.

Step 7: Turn Over and Fold in Half

Turn your airplane over (first picture) and fold it in half along the middle line (second picture). You should be folding it up towards yourself so you end up with something that looks like the picture. During this process, make sure the two corners don't slip out of the little triangle fold that's holding them down.

Step 8: Check Your Work

At this point, your plane should appear similar to the pictures. Obviously, your plane will look slightly different, but the general shape should be the same. If yours looks significantly different, it may be best to start over with a new piece of paper. If you're happy with how it looks, great! Go to the next step.

Step 9: Fold Down the First Wing

Let's make the wings! Place your plane so the nose is facing left and fold most, grab one half, and fold it down straight across, as the picture indicates. This will make the first wing. You can make your wing as big as you choose. I've found that my plane performs best if I crease the wing 0.5-1 inch above the bottom of the plane.

Step 10: Fold Down the Second Wing

Turn your plane over and place it so the nose is facing to the right. Fold down the other wing so it exactly matches your first wing. It is important that these folds are as equal as possible; otherwise, your plane will not be balanced correctly.

Step 11: Unfold Wings and Check Your Work

Unfold the wings so they are perpendicular with the body of the plane. Again, make sure your plane looks somewhat like the pictures. At this point, you have a fully functional paper airplane! Nice work! You could end here if you wanted. If you find your plane spinning out of control, and would like to give it some more stability, go to the next step.

Step 12: Fold Up Wing Tips

I've found that my paper airplanes are much more stable if I complete this step. Fold the wings down again and place your plane with the nose facing right. Fold up the very tip of the wing about a half-inch. Turn the plane over and do the same thing to the other wing. Again, it is crucial to make sure these folds are equal to each other so your plane is balanced correctly.

Step 13: Finished!

Unfold the wings again to reveal your finished product. You did it! Now you know how to make the best paper airplane known to man!

If your plane loses balance while flying, try re-folding the wings and wing tips so they are exactly even with each other.

If you'd like to modify the design, try making the plane with different sized wings, or with bigger folded-up wing tips. Bigger wings are better for gliding, while smaller wings are good for accuracy. You can also put a paper clip on the nose for better accuracy. Make the design yours, have have fun!