Since man first attempted to imitate soaring birds by strapping on feathers and then flailing his arms, he has made some amazing discoveries about overcoming the force of gravity to keep an object in the air for a sustained period of time. Although the field of air science and manned space vehicles can be very complex, our reliance on simulating the structure of one of Heavenly Father’s most delightful creations—the bird—is the basis of all winged travel design by earthbound humans.

There are four basic forces working on paper airplanes just as there are on real airplanes: THRUST moves a plane forward, DRAG slows it down, LIFT makes it go up, and GRAVITY tries to make the plane fall to earth again. By folding a piece of typing paper or a sheet of loose-leaf paper ten times, you can build your own airplane or “flying wing” and observe the physical forces involved in air travel, and have fun while doing it.

Directions: Fold sheet of paper in half (Fig. 1) the long way along I and crease. (All dotted lines are folds. Make crisp creases, using fingernail.) Open out flat and fold corners A and B to I (Figs. 2 & 3). Fold T so point is down 1 1/2″ from top of I (Fig. 4). Fold C and D to I, and fold T back toward Q (Figs. 5 & 6). Turn over, fold Q up 1/2″ and recrease in opposite direction (Figs. 7 & 8). Fold F and G down parallel with I (Figs. 9 & 10). Then lift up wings gently so that they are at right angles with I, and stick wings together with a small piece of cellophane tape. HAPPY FLYING!

Flying Wing

Illustrated by Julie McKean