Intro: Fold and Fly the XO Paper Airplane
Learn how to fold and fly the XO o-wing paper airplane. See the video above and the one-page instructions document, with illustrations of the folds, below to help you as well.
It seems like every other day I read about some "perfect" paper airplane design, and I hope to see my XO or something like it, only to find some fancy taped-up masterpiece. Don't get me wrong--I've taped, glued, and stapled airplanes together every way possible and still do.
That being said, there is no debate that the XO o-wing is the most efficient and effective paper airplane design. I could literally fold 60 planes per hour with no tape or scissors, and they would all fly great. The XO is simple and sophisticated.
The first time I saw an o-wing (annular) paper airplane I was stunned by the shape and flying characteristics. I've never been able to find out the history of the first o-wing design but would guess China; although I've also heard it was born at NASA. Since there appears to be no agreed-upon name for the o-wing, I call mine the XO because of the construction and appearance--and I love this design! I hope you do, too.
Step 1: Assemble Supplies and Materials
- Sheet of standard size paper (20 lb bond copy paper works fine)
- Hard surface for folding (table top or floor)
- For Optional Modification: Fishing line, scissors, and pin or needle
Step 2: Print XO Template or Use Plain Paper
You can use plain copy paper for this project or you can print out a template from paperairplaneguru.com. Templates have printed lines to help with folding and come with your choice of various illustrations so you can fold an XO paper airplane that fits your interests. (If you print a template, be sure your print settings are set to "actual size.")
Step 3: Fold Paper Diagonally
Fold the full piece of paper on the diagonal from one top corner to the opposite bottom corner. Because the paper is a rectangle, be aware that the opposite corners will be offset.
Step 4: Fold Once Along Diagonal Fold
Fold the edge you just folded once again, about a half inch down and at a very slight angle (so one end of the fold is a little larger than the other). If you're using one of the XO templates, fold to the gray line printed on the template as this line is at the correct angle to allow for this slight variation in the width of the fold.
Step 5: Fold Along Diagonal Fold Four More Times
Continue to fold along the diagonal fold line another four more times.
Step 6: Curve Tips Around and Insert Into Each Other
Using your fingers, curve the paper along the diagonal fold so the two tips come around in a perfect circle to meet one another.
Insert the smaller tip into the larger one and carefully push the two together so they are secure. The circle should be pretty tight and fairly firm. The smaller tip will go far into the other side if you work them together carefully, ending up with only about two inches of space between the two edges of the paper.
Step 7: Fly the XO Paper Airplane
You can fly the XO in a couple of different ways.
One way is to hold it where the two tips come together.
Another way is to hold it by the triangle points opposite where the two tips come together.
In either case, the XO will generally fly great if you throw it up (think underhanded). But see what works best for you. Be creative and have fun!
Step 8: Modify Your XO Paper Airplane (Optional)
Major fun factor modification:
Attach a piece of fishing line to the top of the XO and see what happens when you sling it.
Just poke a hole through the center of the thin area where the tips come together with a pin or needle and put a piece of fishing line through it, tying it into a knot.
Swing the string overhead or to the side and let it go out or up to see how far it will fly.
Cool thing was my first field test of this mod was at the Aerospace Museum of California!