Paper Cherokee

Paper Cherokee is a paper glider that does not only glide, but makes stunts. The design is from my childhood almost 50 years ago. I learned it from the older kids and did some improvements to it. The video shows the Paper Cherokee in action.

What you need

A rectangular sheet of paper. Not a square. Copying paper is good, preferably some paper from the waste bin, for the sake of recycling. Preferably a sheet without wrinkles. No tools. Well, scissors, if you are a perfectionist.

Prefer a video guide?

Jump to last step, if you just want to watch a video, where I fold the Paper Cherokee.

Step 1: Start Folding

Place the sheet in front of you in a "portrait" orientation. Take the upper right corner and fold it over so the upper edge matches the left edge of the paper. Open your fold. The dashed line in the rightmost drawing indicates the front fold.

Step 2: Symmetry Is Your Friend

Perform a similar fold with the upper left corner. Remember to open it. You now have two folding lines on your sheet.

Step 3: Back Fold

Fold the top part backwards so that you get a horizontal back fold line, which runs across the two front fold lines from the earlier steps. The upper corners of the paper will match the two fold lines at the left and right edges.

Open the fold. You now have two front fold lines (dashed lines) and the new back fold line (the horizontal dotted line). You now notice, how it tends to fold itself for the next step...

Step 4: More Steps in One Turn...

Gently fold the top part the way the fold lines want it to fold. Press gently along the diagonal edges and also from the top tip downwards to assure the folded edges are precise.

Lift the right tip (a) of the newly folded top part and fold it to meet the top tip. Make a firm fold. Don't open this fold.

Step 5:

Take the same tip that you just folded to the top tip (a) and fold it right downwards.

Now, do the same to the left part. Take the tip from the left corner (b), fold it to the top, make the new fold to make the tip meet the right side tip at the middle of the construction.

The more folds you have, the more you should press. But it's not that critical to get sharp edges on the folds.

Almost there...

You might think that you now have a sharp nose tip for your plane. But you will lose it in the next step...

Step 6: Getting Its Shape...

Fold the nose part of the plane backwards and press the fold firmly. It's getting thicker all the time.

Now make a firm fold along the center line, two back folds near the center line. And finally two folds just near the left and right edges of the wings. I guess you know by now what I mean, when I refer to wings. The last image will show how it should look like.

Exact measurements?

I don't give you exact measurements for this. The whole idea of the design is that you can figure it out yourself. If I suggest something, I bet you will be able to improve it anyhow!

The meaning of the tiny up folds at the sides is to decrease floppiness of the wings.

At this point you can already test your plane. It should fly nicely. Grab it at the thickest part underneath and throw. It might also turn itself upside down, while it glides. It needs a rudder and elevator flaps...

Step 7: Last Refinements

Make some cuts as shown by the red lines in the image. These will be the rudder and the elevator flaps. I usually just rip these cuts by hands, but use scissors, if you want. Who knows, maybe my hand ripped edges might cause extra unwanted friction.

The two elevator flaps should normally be twisted a bit upwards.

It's ready, if you didn't figure it out already

From now on it's just throwing and trimming. Have fun.

Some basics

The plane flies at its best, when the flaps and the rudder give it a little elevating twist. The harder you throw, the more likely it is to perform a loop. But a loop will decrease the total length it will fly. The rudder might be used to make it turn or fly straight. Try to have it fly in a circle, do a loop and finally return to you. Catch it by hands without moving a step.

Try to bend the flaps downwards. Try to bend the side edges downwards. Will it have a positive effect to the stunt that you try to perform?

The thick nose part of the plane will give a perfect weight balance to the plane. But, by all means, experiment with paper clips, duct tape or whatever, to improve the plane. I have never succeeded in improving the plane by adding anything to it. It's just about bending the flaps, the rudder or the front edges. Or anything else on the plane.

Step 8: Make a Fancy Print

If you have found the perfect sized paper sheet, say an A4 or A5 or Letter, draw sketches on your plane by hand. Unfold everything and notice at what part of the paper each print should be placed. Plan how to do a computer aided design. Use your favourite graphic tool on your computer and print a double sided colour print sheet and fold it into your fancy stunt plane. Prepare a template drawing with all the importat fold lines to make it easier to do the graphic designing.

Step 9: Watch Me Fold the Plane

The video shows how I fold the plane. Space bar is your friend (it pauses the video, while you repeat the steps, you might want to mute the music).

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    2 Discussions

    JohanH44Penolopy Bulnick

    Reply 25 days ago

    Me too. There's only so much fun in competing in length of flight, when throwing paper gliders. This is something different.