World’s Simplest Paper Airplane

World’s Simplest Paper Airplane


The World’s Simplest PAP is a piece of paper and a paperclip. That’s it! No folds required! You’ll need a standard #1 paperclip and some 20 lb or 75-80 gsm bond paper. The paper needs to be cut into a flat 3 inch or 7.5 cm square. The best to make a flat square is cut with an X-Acto knife and straight edge on a flat cutting surface. Scissors work, but you may have to flatten the paper after cutting. A shear works better and makes measuring easy if you keep the measured part on the cutting table. After you cut the square, look at it from the edges and make it flat. It’s best if the inner loop of the paper clip sticks out a tiny bit on one side. If it doesn’t, you might pick another paper clip, or bend it slightly so it does. Hold that side of the paper clip up, and slide it onto the corner of the square, so the small loop ends up on top. If the small loop ends up on the bottom, just flip the paper over so it is on top. Make sure the paper clip is all the way on the square, and lined up to the diagonal of the square. Hold the paper clip between your thumb and one finger that just cover up the paper clip, like this, and pinch it just enough to form a very shallow bowl shape in the paper, like this. Look at it from the front and back, and carefully bend the paper until it is exactly the same on both sides. Here are some ways to form the paper. Sometimes it takes several tries, and then you bend the paper too far. Other times it is easier to just bend the other side. You’ll learn what works with a little practice. Just do the best you can. Now test it. The paper clip goes in front, and bowl shape goes on top. Handel it carefully so you don’t make it change shape. Here are 2 ways to launch it. Try both and use what works best. You can set it on your hand and give it a slow underhanded throw, stopping your hand so it slides off. Or hold it at its center, between your thumb and finger, and throw very slowly aimed down about 35-40°. If it turns, it might not be the same on both sides. Look at it from the front or back, notice the difference, and carefully make it the same both sides, especially near the wing tips. Then fly it again. If you can’t get it right after several minutes, just make another one. It may take a few tries to get it right. It can be hard to trim the wing’s curvature. However, the good trim skills needed here, are also needed for the best duration and distance gliders. Making something simple often comes at a price. It’s conceptually easier than folding, but harder to trim the wing’s curvature. Similarly, it’s hard to make an F-22 fly well without cutting and taping. You can pinch a paper clip onto rectangles like these. Make sure you measure and put it exactly in the middle. You’ll have to test fly it to figure out how far it needs to stick out in front of a larger piece of paper. If it porpoises, it probably needs more weight in front, so you would slide the paper clip farther forward, or use a bigger paper clip. If it dives or glides too steep, you may need to slide the clip farther back, or use a smaller paper clip. Try different paper and clip sizes, and clip locations to see what works best. Once you master the technique, it won’t take long to make one. I’m JZ, a non-traditional designer and Guinness record setter in paper aviation. To see more, see the comments and links below this video.

Eugene Islam

3 thoughts on “World’s Simplest Paper Airplane

  1. It makes sense that tiny adjustments matter so much. A full scale plane only needs to move its trailing edges (ailerons, for example) a few inches to get a very noticeable control input. So if you scale that to a craft this size, its going to be really tiny. Thats where a careful touch comes in. One of the few paper plane videos I've seen that really gets into tuning for good flying. Paper planes are SO much more fun when you can control what they do and get them gliding well.

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