Paper Airplane Contest Ideas

Create a paper airplane that will stay airborne the longest:

Using an 8.5×11″ piece of paper (any type), fold it into the shape of an airplane and throw it to see how long it will stay in the air. Experiment with different types of paper and different paper airplane designs to see which of your paper airplanes stay in the air the longest. Take a look at this video by a world record paper airplane designer to get some ideas.

Things to consider:

  • Wing Design – Try a few different wing designs to see which designs help the paper airplane stay aloft the longest and which wing designs result in a stable airplane that keeps flying versus one that becomes destabilized and falls to the ground sooner.
  • Aircraft surfaces: try cutting or tearing a piece of paper in different places to add elevators to the tail and ailerons to the wings to see how these surfaces change your paper airplane’s performance.
  • Weight: Consider adding a paperclip or other items to add weight and see how these items stabilize or destabilize the plane.
  • Centre of Gravity: how does the location of the weight affect how the paper airplane flies? Try adding weight near the middle of the plane to make it balanced and see how it flies, then try moving the weight forward or backward and see how that changes the way it flies.

Once you and your friends have each decided on your best airplane design, line up side by side with plenty of space between you. Have someone count down “3, 2, 1, GO” and on “GO” everyone throws their paper airplane, the last one to touch the ground or any other surface is the winner. If you have too many people to all throw at the same time, divide into smaller groups and the winner from each group competes in the finals to see which airplane stays airborne the longest.

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