Instructions for How to Make Paper Flying Cylinders

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Recycle sheets of paper from junk mail into flying paper projects.
Recycle sheets of paper from junk mail into flying paper projects. (Image: Yusaku Takeda/iStock/Getty Images)

Not all homemade flying objects made from paper look like planes, kites or gliders. A tube or cylinder shape made from a folded sheet of paper, as unlikely as it seems, also flies when thrown. The flying tube is simple enough that even children who don't have much experience making paper planes can form one with ease. Experiment with several paper thicknesses and throwing techniques to come up with a version that meets your flight expectations.

Paper Selection

While you can use just about any kind of paper, a slightly thick sheet holds its shape better when thrown through the air, creating less resistance and resulting in a smoother flight. Thin paper such as tissue paper will not work. Select a sheet of quality copy paper or a thick magazine or catalog cover to craft your flying tube. The paper may also be larger than standard office paper, as long as it's rectangular and of similar proportions.

Folding the Flying Tube

Place the paper on a clean desk in a "landscape" position. Fold the top half down approximately 1/3 of the way, creasing the fold sharply. Fold the folded area in half and crease it, and then fold the new folded area in half and crease the fold again. The end result should have a thick, evenly folded area at the top across the entire page.

Shaping the Cylinder

Curve the paper with your hands so it arcs a bit on its own. Grab both sides and rub the paper over the edge of a table or desk, folded side facing in, to help form a natural curve. Once the paper curves, it should stand on its own if placed on a flat surface. Tuck one end of the paper into another near the folded end by lifting the folds on one side slightly. Create an overlap of at least an inch along the entire piece of paper. The new shape resembles a tube. Roll the top edge of the paper down inside itself about 1/2 an inch or so to create a new fold; the process may look a bit messy at first. Flip the tube over and tuck the bottom edge inside itself in the same fashion, but only tucking the paper down 1/8 inch to create a very small lip. Now the tube holds its shape without tape. For a version simple enough for young children to make, tape the paper together once, tucking one side into another, and skip the extra rolling and tucking of the edges.

Throwing the Tube

Fly the paper tube by holding it as if you're throwing a football, with the thicker folded edge facing away from you. Throw the tube football style, making it spin to fly.

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