Print, cut, fold, glue, fly! This is a simple design for a lightweight glider that is perfect for flying indoors. It also performs well in a light breeze. From the first cut to the finished glider, expect to spend 40 minutes if you have some prior experience making paper or model airplanes.
Step 1: Download and Print
Print the PDF onto card stock (or onto plain paper, then photocopy it onto card stock). Use approximately 80 lb. card stock. Use any color that strikes your fancy.
Step 2: Get Materials
Here are the materials. The green paper is simply a work surface, used to prevent glue from getting on the table. The matte knife (utility knife) is not entirely necessary. If you are a child or adolescent and want to use a matte knife, ask an adult for assistance and use it with caution. Put a cutting board or other durable material under the card stock before cutting it so that you don't damage the table.
Step 3: Follow Along With the Video Instructions
The instructions are covered in this short video. Here are some parts of an airplane you'll need to know in order to fully understand the instructions.
(1) canopy—the part of the fuselage built around the the pilot's cockpit
(2) dihedral—describes a type of wing with an angle at the center line, resulting in a slight v-shape when looking at the plane from the front or back
(3) elevators—the back part of the horizontal stabilizers; the position of the elevators influences the attitude of the plane (nose up or nose down)
(4) fuselage—the main, central body
(5) fin or vertical stabilizer—the single fin at the tail of the plane that sticks up
(6) horizontal stabilizers—the two fins at the tail of the plane that stick out left and right
(7) lift—the force the pushed the plain up, counteracting the downward pull of gravity; a plane must be moving forward in order to create lift with its wings
(8) rudder—the back part of the vertical stabilizer; the position of the rudder influences the yaw of the plane (rotation to the left or right, as seen when viewing the plane from above)
(9) tail or tailplane—the section of the plane at the aft end of the fuselage, and including the horizontal and vertical stabilizers
(10) undercamber—the slightly convex shape that is characteristic of some planes and gliders, especially those that are slow and lightweight; it helps produce lift under the wings
Step 4: Finishing Touches and Flight
Look down the nose of the plane and check to make sure there are no twists or bends in the fuselage. If there are, gently straighten them out. Check the wings, too. Make sure the dihedral angle is good, the left and right sides of the wing are raised the same height above the top of the fuselage. Check the vertical and horizontal stabilizers for warps and symmetry; adjust the gently if there is a problem. Do this after every few flights to make sure the glider will continue to fly properly.
Avoid water and damp ground. The card stock will warp if it gets wet.
Put small paper clip (no. 1 size) if you are going to fly the glider indoors, or if you want the glider to do loops and turns. Use a large paper clip if your want a longer, straighter flight, and/or if you are flying outdoors and there is a breeze. The glider will not fly properly without a paper clip on the nose.
You can adjust the rudder and elevators to change the flight characteristics of the glider. Note that the elevators should never be set at a downward angle, as this will cause the glider to nose down and crash.
WARNING: the glider can cause eye injury. Advise those around you before you throw it, and consider wearing glasses to protect your own eyes.