Intro: How to Make the StratoDragon Paper Airplane
The StratoDragon is a tiny paper airplane with very large high aspect ratio wings and landing gear. Although it was not an airplane I had planned on designing, I am very happy I did. The performance of the StratoDragon is excellent, and is sure to impress all who fly it.
Originally, I was asked by a viewer to replicate the Lockheed U-2. When I attempted this, I was met by failure due to a lack of wing spars. In flight testing, the replica's wings often buckled, but the design appeared otherwise sound. With replication the goal, spars could not be installed to strengthen the wings and the effort was doomed. However, because of the good handling of the aircraft, I decided to try a similar design with a high wing configuration to accommodate spars. This new model became the StratoDragon.
TAA USAF Designation: D232-1
Step 1: Materials
1 Piece of 10.5 by 8 inch graph paper
Step 2: Begin Construction
First, begin by folding your your graph paper in half (excluding three boxes on the perforated side). Once the paper has been folded appropriately, make two marks--15 full boxes apart. Use a ruler to make a straight line with the length of 12 boxes directly up 1 row of boxes from the two marks you just made. Then make the rudder, spars and counterweight as shown. Follow the photograph markings. 3 box behind the counterweight, mark out the spars, 10 boxes progressing out from the fuselage. Half a box in from the tip of the spars, make dotted lines. 1.5 boxes further inward, make another dotted line. Once this is done, mark out the rudder as shown. Then, below the rudder mark a line that stretches 2 boxes. 1 box behind the beginning of this line, make a dotted line vertically. Once all is marked out, cut out the fuselage.
After the fuselage is made, take another sheet of paper that is folded in half along the lines of boxes. Mark out the wing as shown (3 boxes in length at the fuselage, with chord decaying 1 box every 10 boxes outwards and 10 boxes in width).
Solid lines indicate places to cut. Dotted lines indicate fold lines.
Note: 1 box = 0.25 inches
Step 3: Making the Fuselage
After having cut out all of the fuselage, cut off the second vertical stabilizer. Begin folding it along the dotted lines. Then fold as indicated the second line near the rear of the airplane by folding the 2 rearmost boxes forward and cut along the line. Do this by folding the fuselage to the right, making a cut, and repeating the fold to the left. Then tape your fuselage together at the front, across the spars and across the fuselage at the fin (be careful not to tape over the slat for the horizontal stabilizers).
Step 4: Applying the Wings
Cut out the wings and flip the fuselage inverted. Then apply tape to the spars. Tape not touching the spars will apply itself to the wings. Once each wing is mounted, cut off any excess. Then flip the airframe back over.
Step 5: Applying the Horizontal Stabilizers; Stapling
Cut out the horizontal stabilizers and slide them through the slat you cut earlier for them. Once through, fold them upwards and apply tape to their undersides. Once this tape has been applied, reduce the stabilizers' fold to only a few degrees of dihedral. In the area of the counterweight, apply one staple. This will complete your StratoDragon.
Step 6: Flight
Like most small glider paper airplanes with large wings, the StratoDragon cannot be launched too quickly. A light throw at neutral or negative attitude will result in long range flights. Trimming may be necessary to keep the aircraft headed straight. The best places to apply trim are the forward and rear fuselage. Additional applicable surfaces include slats, flaps, flaperons, ailerons, elevators, air brakes and a rudder. Enjoy!