Making Model Airplanes

At the H.E.R.I. conference in Jacksonville, FL, the Jr. Civil Air Patrol was making these airplanes for the children. Of course, the children where shooting the planes everywhere and had a great time. I wanted to try making these planes because they are simple and soft, so they don’t hurt anyone.

You’ll find most of the materials at Lowe’s, Home Depot, or your local hardware store.

  1. Plumbing pipe insulation—1-2 inch diameter (This comes in 8 foot lengths, so you’ll be able to make 8-10 planes.)
  2. Flat washer—up to 1 inch diameter. You need one washer per plane.
  3. Large rubber band— about 10 inch in length (These are a special order product at Lowe’s. I found them at Michael’s as part of cardboard toy airplanes. You could also loop several rubber bands together to give the length you need.)
  4. Art Foam board—12″x18″ (One piece of  art foam board can make the wings and tail pieces for several airplanes. I used a glue stick and glued two pieces of foam board together, making it double thickness. I then let it dry under a stack of books. If you can find thicker foam board, use that.)
  5. Cable Tie – about 8 inches (Sometimes these are called Zip Ties.
  6. Pattern for wings and two tail pieces.) Download here.
  7. Glue gun and glue sticks
  8. Scissors

Zach and Molly helped make these airplanes. Of course, they didn’t use the glue gun. But, they did a super job of holding the pieces until the glue was cool. You can follow the process below.

Plane parts are ready to assemble.
Glue the first wing and hold it until the glue cools.
Second wing is glued in place.
Cut small slits in the foam to insert the large tail piece. Glue in place.
Glue the small tail piece on top of the foam.
Loop the rubber band through the washer and secure it.
Insert the washer inside the nose, letting the rubber band hang out. Loop the zip tie.
Cinch the zip tie as tightly as possible.
Cut the excess from the zip tie. You're ready to fly.

To fly the planes, hold the front edge of the rubber band with one hand. Pull the plane back. Let go!

NASA has the plans for a glider made from a styrofoam tray.

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