Paper Airplane Windtunnel - Make: Community
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Paper Airplane Windtunnel

By Elizabeth Sallay

A small fan designed to create laminar flow to test the aerodynamics of your paper airplane.

Type: Education


State: UT
Country: United States
Affiliation: Makerspace - Make Salt Lake


What inspired you or what is the idea that got you started?

I wondered if a regular fan could support a paper airplane. I sketched it out and then started asking people I knew if it was possible.

What is your project about and how does it work?

Aerodynamics and laminar flow. Trying to remember how to fold a paper airplane. I had a 9-inch fan and put 100 straws into a big pot and taped them with masking tape. I also taped it around the fan. I eventually switched to green duct tape. Then I bought thin acrylic and wrapped that around the straws and fan. For the paper airplane frame, I used scrap wood and made an elongated U shape than needed to stand up and hold fishing ling in the middle. I held the paper airplanes in place with paper clips.

What did you learn by doing this project?

Laminar flow and finding the right spot to make a paper airplane fly. I am not good at making them even now. There's a demographic that's perfect for this and it's kids. They have no ego for it, they do this very well. If they had a class project to make the perfect paper airplane it wouldn't take them long. Adult men have to get it right the first time, especially in a group/pack. It's hilarious. One man did a really good job and then signed the paper airplane and gave it to me.

What impact does your project have on others as well as yourself?

It was so much fun to figure out how to make it effectively. It's also fun watching everyone work on their paper airplanes and then rework them. I also was able to explain the greatest paper airplane of all time, the Suzanne created by John Collins, I enjoy seeing kids helping other kids with this task and leading each other.