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How to Make a Paper Plane: 14 Steps For a Folding a Paper Air Plane

Jun 27, 2023Jun 27, 2023

How far can you get it to fly?

Here at Popular Mechanics, our fascination with paper airplanes runs deep. We decided to celebrate its fascinating history—as well as its surprising contribution to the field of aerodynamics and engineering—in our July/August issue.

Graphic designer, author, and paper plane fanatic Kyle Boyer designed our cover plane, called the Alpha Lock. It’s specially crafted to fly far, fast, and straight, and it has an interior pocket that locks the wings in place to ensure a stable flight.

We’ve included step-by-step instructions below on how to fold the plane, but you can also follow along as Kyle folds an Alpha Lock paper plane in the video below.

PRO TIP Make sure each fold is as crisp as possible.

Every paper plane has adjustable control surfaces that can, if minutely tweaked, affect how smoothly it flies.

Tweaking the rudder on your plane—by folding it slightly to the left or right—will affect the yaw. The most important control surfaces on our plane are the back edges of the wings, or elevons. If you find that your plane pitches down toward the ground, fold the elevons up slightly, to increase lift. If your plane starts to roll, you can adjust the elevons to stabilize it. If it rolls to the left, bend the right elevon up slightly, and vice versa.Bending the wings upward slightly, so they are at a dihedral angle, can also increase the stability of your plane. This does increase drag, so you may lose a bit of lift.Yaw refers to the rotation of the plane around the vertical axis.Pitch refers to the rotation of the plane around a side-to-side axis.Roll refers to the rotation of the plane around the front-to-back axis.

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