Ken Blackburn set the Guinness World Record for time aloft for paper airplanes in 1998 with a 27.6 second flight. He has held the record for a combined total of 24 years between 1983 and 2009. Blackburn divides paper airplane flight into two distinct phases with conflicting aerodynamic properties: launch phase and gliding flight. In order to make your paper airplane fly as far and fast as possible you must balance wing length and paper weight to ensure that your plane performs well under both phases of flight.
Things You'll Need
- Sheet of computer paper, 8.5" x 11"
Shorten the wings of your paper airplane to make it fly faster. Short wings can withstand faster throws than long wings. Optimize the flight time of short-winged planes by throwing them as high as possible and allowing them to glide downward quickly.
Lengthen the wings of your paper airplane to make it glide farther. Long wings allow the paper airplane to glide longer distances through the air, but they cannot withstand fast launches. Optimize the flight time of long-winged planes by gently throwing them from as high as possible.
Fold the wings so they are at a dihedral angle. For a plane with dihedral wings, the tips of the wings are the highest part of the wing. Many people make the mistake of leaving the wings folded down at an anhedral angle, but folding the tips of the wings up provides better lateral stability and helps prevent your paper airplane from rolling on its back and crashing.
Add weight to the front of the plane to increase its stability during flight. This can be achieved by adding a paperclip or tape to the nose of the plane.
Include trim tabs at the back of the plane's wings. Trim tabs are small portions of the wing that can be folded up or down to make adjustments in the flight of the paper airplane. All good paper airplanes require some small adjustments beyond the initial folding, and trim tabs can be used to make these adjustments after performing test flights.