Learn about Life in the 1920s

How to Make Paper Gliders

Paper Plane Kit

In this chapter are brought to your notice some patterns of paper gliders which, if made and handled carefully, prove very satisfactory. Gliders are sensitive and "moody" things, so that first experiments may be attended by failure; but a little persistence will bring its reward, and at the end of a few hours you will, unless very unlucky, be the possessor of a good specimen or two.

The three distinguishing features of a good glider are stability, straightness of flight, and a small gliding angle. If the last is as low as 1 in 10, so that the model falls but 1 foot vertically while progressing 10 feet horizontally, the glider is one to be proud of.

Materials. - The materials needed for the gliders to be described are moderately stout paper - cream-laid notepaper is somewhat heavy for the purpose - and a little sealing wax or thin sheet metal for weighting.


FIG. 126. - Paper glider: Model "A."

Model "A." - Double a piece of paper 8 inches long and 2-1/2 inches wide, and cut out, through both folds, the shape shown in Fig. 126. Flatten the piece and fold the "head" inwards four times on the side away from the direction in which the paper was folded before being cut out. Flatten the folds and fix to the centre a little clip formed by doubling a piece of thin metal 3/16 by 1/2 inch.

FIG. 127. - How to launch Model "A."


Make certain that the wings are quite flat, and then, holding the glider between thumb and first finger, as shown in Fig. 127, push it off gently. If the balance is right, it will fly quite a long way with an undulating motion. If too heavy in front, it will dive; if too light, it will rise suddenly and slip backwards to the ground. The clip or the amount of paper in the head must be modified accordingly. This type is extraordinarily efficient if the dimensions, weighting, and shape are correct, and one of the easiest possible to make.

Model "B." - The next model (Fig. 128), suggesting by its shape the Langley steam-driven aeroplane, has two sets of wings tandem. Double a piece of paper and cut out of both folds simultaneously a figure of the shape indicated by the solid lines in the diagram. The portion A is square, and forms the head weight; B indicates the front planes, C the rear planes. Bend the upper fold of each pair into the positions B1, C1, marked by dotted lines. Their front edges make less than a right angle with the keel, to ensure the wings slanting slightly upwards towards the front when expanded.

The model is now turned over, and the other wings are folded exactly on top of their respective fellows. Then the halves of the head are folded twice inwards, to bring the paper into as compact a form as possible. It remains to open out the wings at right angles to the keel, and then raise their tips slightly so that the two planes of a pair shall make what is called a "dihedral" angle with one another.

Before launching, look at your model endways and make sure that the rear planes are exactly in line


FIG. 128. -- Details of paper gliders: Model "B" above, Model "C" below.

with those in front. It is essential that they should be so for straight flight. Then grip the keel at its centre between finger and thumb and launch gently. Mark how your glider behaves. If it plunges persistently, trim off a very little of the head. If, on the contrary, it settles almost vertically, weight must be added in front. The position of the weight is soon found by sliding a metal clip along the keel until a good result is obtained.

Note that if the leading edges of the front wings are bent slightly downwards the glider may fly much better than before. A good specimen of this type is so stable that if launched upside down it will right itself immediately and make a normal flight.

Model "C." - This is cut out of doubled paper according to the solid lines of Fig. 128. The three sets of planes are bent back in the manner already described, but the front planes are given a somewhat steeper angle than the others. This type is very stable and very fairly efficient.

General Remarks. - Always pick up a glider by the keel or middle, not by one of the wings, as a very little distortion will give trouble.

The merits of a glider depend on length, and on straightness of flight; so in competition the launching height should be limited by a string stretched across the room, say 6 feet above the floor. If the room be too short for a glider to finish its flight, the elevation at which it strikes the wall is the measure of its efficiency.

Out-of-door flights are impracticable with these very frail models when there is the slightest breeze blowing. On a perfectly calm day, however, much better fun can be got out of doors than in, owing to the greater space available. A good glider launched from a secondfloor window facing a large lawn should travel many yards before coming to grass.

Large gliders of the types detailed above can be made of very stout paper stiffened with slips of cane or bamboo; but the time they demand in construction might perhaps be more profitably spent on a power-driven aeroplane such as forms the subject of the next chapter.

Model Aeroplane >>>>


List of Chapters in this book: Sawing Trestle | Joiner's Bench | Bookstand | House Ladder | Developing Sink | Poultry House | Bicycle Shed | Rifle Target | Cabinet Making | Telegraphic Apparatus | Electric Motor | Alarm Clock | Model Railway | Reciprocating Engine | Slide Valve Engine | Model Steam Turbine | Steam Tops | Model Boilers | Quick Boiling Kettle | Hot Air Engine | Water Motor | Model Pumps | Kites | Paper Gliders | Model Aeroplane | Scientific Apparatus | Rain Gauge | Wind Vanes | Strength Tester | Harmonographs | Automatic Matchbox | Wooden Workbox | Wrestling Puppets | Double Bellows | Pantograph | Silhouette Drawing Machine | Signalling Lamp | Miniature Gasworks