Most adults remember learning how to make a basic dart airplane as a child, but this is only the beginning of the fun you can have creating paper airplanes. There are hundreds of different designs to try out. You can also try to design your own version of a paper airplane by combining elements of different plane patterns. This is how my son Logan and I created the plane featured in this tutorial. After spending a few hours experimenting with different designs, we decided this one was the perfect paper airplane because it was relatively easy to fold and seemed to fly the longest distance.
This particular simple paper airplane works best with six inch lightweight origami paper squares. Although many origami projects can be folded with scrapbook paper, magazine pages, calendar pages, and other types of materials, the origami airplane needs a lightweight paper to fly well. Thicker paper is also more difficult to fold, which makes it more likely that your plane will be asymmetrical and end up taking a quick nosedive when it's launched for the first time.
1. Make the Initial Folds
Start by folding a square piece of origami paper in half with the white side facing up. Crease well, then unfold. Turn and fold in half from the other direction. Crease well, then unfold.
Fold the top of your paper in to the middle crease. When you're finished, your paper airplane should look like the photo to the left.
2. Fold the Corners Down
Fold the left corner down to meet the edge of the colored side of your paper. Fold the right corner in the same manner.
3. Make the Nose of Your Simple Paper Airplane
Fold the left and right corners of your origami paper in so your project resembles the photo at the left. The pointed end will be the nose of your origami airplane. The extra folds you made in the previous step help give the nose the additional weight it needs to make your simple paper airplane fly properly.
4. Fold Your Paper Along the Middle Crease
Fold your paper in half along the middle crease. Fold the right corner up as shown in the picture to the left. The corner should be about ½ inch from the edge of the paper. Unfold the paper, flip it over and fold it from the other direction along the same crease.
5. Make Your Airplane's Tail
Open your paper and collapse the fold you made in the previous step. If you're having trouble getting the fold to collapse, go over the creases once more to make sure they're as sharp as possible. This creates the tail of your paper airplane.
6. Make the Wings of Your Origami Airplane
Fold the top layer of the paper down to make the first wing of your paper airplane. At the nose, the wing should be slightly above the middle layer of the paper. At the back, it should be slightly above the bottom of the tail you made in the last step.
Repeat the process on the other side to make the second wing of your origami airplane.
7. Fly Your Simple Paper Airplane
Hold your plane at the widest part of the base and gently send it flying across the room! If you're having trouble getting your plane to fly, examine it carefully to make sure it is symmetrical. If one side is even slightly larger than the other, your plane won't fly straight.
Don't worry if you need to make a few practice airplanes before finding a method that works for you! Paper airplanes, just like other forms of origami, take a bit of patience to learn how to make correctly. The About Origami article Learn How to Fold the Perfect Paper Airplane has some tips you might find helpful.