Making a Paper Airplane – Application of Number Level 2
The aim of the project is to compare the performance of two paper planes. I will first have to
source information on how to make the planes and then use them to compare flying distances,
speed and the height they reach in flight.
I will then use these comparisons to work out the averages for the planes and compare them to
see which planes performance was best.
I first checked on the internet for websites that could give me instructions and plans on how to
make a paper plane. I found a website
http://www.eej.ulst.ac.uk/~ian/modules/MEC002/files/planes.php.htm which helped me to make
the Rapier plane. I also found instructions on http://www.paperairplanes.co.uk/rapier.php which I
could use to make the same plane. The first website when checked had a link to the same
instructions as the second. I decided that I would make this plane as the sites also had a video to
watch and follow to help when making your plane. The website gives instructions to follow in 5
1. Use paper sized A4 and fold down the centre
2. Fold the 1st top 1cm over and then again another 5 times
3. Fold corners in diagonally to the centre to about 3/8 of the length down
4. Fold in half and bring down top edges to centre
5. Fold wings down into position
I didn’t think that making a simple aeroplane would be so difficult to do. To show my creation I
have photos of me making my Rapier plane.
This is the Rapier plane that I made and the process I followed;
1st Stage – Starting the folding
2nd Stage – Folding 6 times
3rd Stage – Creating the body
4th Stage – Creating the wings
Once I made the plane, I then needed to fly it and analyse the distance, time and speed of the
flights. I used an empty room to do this as there would be no obstacles which could affect the
flights of the planes.
These are the results: The Rapier plane:
I used this website again http://www.paperairplanes.co.uk/saber2.php to help me to make the
Lightning plane. See below for finished plane.
Once I made the plane, I then again threw the plane as I did with the Rapier to get flying distances
which I will then use for comparison in the conclusion of the project.
These are the results:
Overall the Lightning Plane was the better design as indicated in the above results.
These are my hand calculations to find the averages for both planes.
This table shows that overall, all category results were better for the Lightening plane. The glide
ratio was higher. The Lightning Plane shouldn’t have been faster but this maybe because I found it
easier to make than The Rapier Plane which I needed to re-fold to be accurate following the
diagrams on the website Alex Paper Airplanes.
The calculations show that the Lightning Plane travels at on average 0.18 mps faster over the
distances flown as shown in the average calculations (above).
The aim of the project was to compare the performance of two paper aeroplanes. With the results
shown I could analyse the performance of each plane to determine which plane was better at
These are the results of the average flight comparison as shown in hand calculations. The range of
data for the flight comparisons however shows that there is a greater difference – 3.87m for the
Lightning’s performance. The mean average calculation also shows that the Lightning planes
performance was 3.54m better.
The mean averages are calculated by adding up the values then dividing by the number of
Rapier Plane Speed
Lightning Plane Speed
Rapier Plane Speed
Number of flights
Number of flights
*Metres per second
I followed the diagrams on the website ‘Alex Paper Planes’ to make the Rapier Plane and the
I carried out the experiment by throwing both of the planes three times and measuring
how far they went and how long they took to reach the floor.
To find the speed I used the distance divided by time
The aspect ratio is the ratio of the width of a shape to its height
In conclusion to the tests carried out, the results show ‘The Lightning Plane’ is better in every
aspect compared to ‘The Rapier Plane’. The Lightning Plane was also very easy to make in
comparison to The Rapier Plane.
The aspect ratio of a wing is essentially the ratio of its length to its breadth (chord). A high aspect
ratio indicates long, narrow wings, whereas a low aspect ratio indicates short, stubby wings.
Both planes had small aspect ratios, The Lightning Plane had a slightly higher aspect ratio (01:04)
than The Rapier Plane (01:03). The results indicate a higher aspect ratio is better for glide
performance and this is reflected in the distance and speed of both planes as represented in the
graphs on pages 5 and 6.
Paper Plane Popularity:
After making the paper planes and reviewing their performance I looked to see whether there was
any information on their popularity. I found this information on
http://www.paperairplanes.co.uk/best-paper-airplane.php which showed that the Rapier Paper
Airplane was number 4 in the top 5 of most popular paper planes to make.
The Best Paper Airplane
User's favourite paper airplanes
Paper Helicopter (16233)
Dragon Paper Airplane (15420)
Trapezium Plane (11112)
Rapier Paper Airplane (8987)
The Worst Paper Airplane (8953)