How to Make Water Bottle Airplanes

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With a little ingenuity, plastic water bottles can be turned into many different crafts.
With a little ingenuity, plastic water bottles can be turned into many different crafts. (Image: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Plastic water bottles are an excellent base for a large number of craft projects. They are lightweight, require no special tools for cutting or shaping and can be decorated with a wide array of common craft supplies. Plastic water bottles are particularly well-suited to making model airplanes, as they are shaped much like the body of an aircraft.

Things You'll Need

  • Water bottle
  • Glue
  • Cardboard
  • Craft knife or scissors
  • Paint
  • Primer
  • Masking tape
  • Bottle caps

Wash the plastic bottle with warm, soapy water. This will help remove oils and residue from the surface, making it easier for paint and glue to adhere. Cut the bottleneck off, leaving a smooth, rounded shape, similar to the nose cone of an airplane. Cut off all but one of the nubs from the bottom of the bottle. The one left behind will support the tail of your airplane. Stuff the bottle with paper until you have filled it completely. This will help to make the plane sturdier. Cover the holes with masking tape.

Cut one wing shape from cardboard. The shape and size of the wing will depend on what kind of plane you wish to make. The wings on fighter jets typically have a swept-back appearance when compared to passenger or cargo planes. Place the wing you have made on another piece cardboard. Trace around it with a pencil, and cut out the second wing shape. This will ensure that the wings match.

Cut one tail shape from cardboard. It should resemble a smaller version of your wing shapes. Place the tail piece on another piece of cardboard, and trace around it with a pencil. Move the tail piece over, and again trace around it with a pencil. Cut out both tail pieces.

Place two of the bottle caps back-to-back and glue them together. Repeat this procedure with two more bottle caps. These will form the landing gear of your airplane. Allow the glue to dry before proceeding.

Glue the landing gear to the side of the bottle opposite from the one remaining nub. Glue one wing on each side of the bottle, a little less than halfway from the top. Glue one tail piece over the remaining nub at the end of the bottle. Glue the other two tail pieces to the sides of the bottle near the bottom. Allow the glue to dry.

Coat the exposed plastic in primer and allow it to dry. Paint the plastic and cardboard in any design you wish. Another option is to cover all surfaces with several layers of papier-mache, allowing each layer to dry before proceeding to the next. Paint can then be applied directly to the papier-mache, without the need for primer.

Tips & Warnings

  • Craft knives and scissors should never be used without adult supervision. The safest course is to make sure that all cutting is done by an adult.

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