Want to get the most flight time out of your paper glider?
Read on and find out how!
The record for the longest flight time for a paper glider is 29.2 seconds by a Japanese national named Takuo Toda. Considering they practically invented Origami, it’s understandable that they set the standards for this feat. You might say 29.2 seconds is not that long, but that is already half a minute. Most people can’t even hold their breath underwater for the same amount of time!
Read on, if you want to know how to make a paper glider that flies for a long time.
The particular paper plane that Takuo Toda used is known as the Albatross paper glider. There are several kinds of paper planes that achieve long flights,but the Albatross Paper Glider currently holds the world record for longest flight time. We will go through these in a bit; bear in mind, though it is NOT just the design of the paper plane – It is a combination of paper thickness, stiffness, the aerodynamics in the way it is folded, the way the weight is distributed throughout the paper plane, and the way it was launched.
So, you see, it is a combination of several factors and the more you know, the more chances you have of replicating this, for your satisfaction and to the amazement of your kids (if you have them) and your buddies!
Before choosing what kind of Paper Plane to go ahead and build, I will give a brief introduction to aerodynamics and the four forces that are responsible for making our paper airplanes fly – Drag, Gravity, Thrust and Lift. This is for you to make the most out of the choices I will be showing you.
Aerodynamics – How easily can your plane fly through the air?
Okay, here goes! What makes a paper plane fly? The answer is very simple, it’s Air. Let’s say you’re in a fast-moving vehicle, hold your palms up against the air and you will feel a slight pressure pushing against your hand, right? That is the air pushing your hand, forcing it backward. Now try again, but this time, your palms are facing downwards, your hand will easily stay where it is because you’re presenting your fingertips against the wind; making a smaller surface area for the wind to push through. Notice how smoothly your hand can move, as if slicing through the air, when your palm is face down? This is the concept of aerodynamics.
Drag and Gravity – The weight of your Plane and how air pushes it.
Remember your hand with your palms outstretched facing the wind? Do you remember how the wind is pushing it backward? That is what’s called drag and if you want your plane to fly as far as possible, this needs to be limited to the very minimum, so your plane can just SLICE through the air. Gravity’s effect, on the other hand, is directly proportional to how much something weighs. What does this mean for the paper plane? It just means that the less your paper plane weighs, the farther and longer it will be able to stay in the air.
Thrust and Lift – forward movement and how wide are your airplane’s wings.
These two forces are very important considerations, in our quest to know how to make a paper glider that flies for a long time. When you pull back your arms and prepare to launch your plane high up into the air, this is referred to as “thrust,” which simply means the force that propels your paper airplane forward. After this force moves the plane into the air, the width of the wings or the surface area that the air pushes up against creates a “lift.” In other words, a lift is created when the air below the wings of an airplane is pushed harder than the air being pushed down from above the wings.
So, there we have it, the basics of flight! Essentially, there are three important takeaways. One, make your plane’s front as small as possible (remember the outstretched hand, again). Two, make the wings as wide as proportionally possible for maximum lift, and three, find the proper paper thickness-balance between rigidity and weight, and you might have a winner paper airplane in your hands!
Now as promised, I will be listing below the names of paper airplanes that have the LONGEST flight time recorded. Look them up online for each of their folding instructions.
The Albatross Paper glider OR the Sky King Paper Airplane – This design type holds the current record for longest flight time, achieved by the Japanese. This design has a heavy nose and is an all-purpose glider. This is also made specifically for indoor use and for acrobatics; it is best when made with medium to heavyweight paper. This record probably makes this the best paper airplane gliders.
The Kingfisher Paper Airplane
This one is best made with heavier paper types and is considered as one of the best gliding paper planes when folded properly and launched with just the right amount of force.
The Seagull Paper Airplane
What separates the design of this paper airplane is that aside from being a delta wing design, its nose is tucked in; this helps in creating a slow but long-distance flier that will surely entertain you and your friends
The Pelican Paper plane
Is best described as resembling a giant moth. The characteristic of this paper glider is that it works with any weight of paper and that its flight characteristics will vary depending on how the nose flaps are folded.
Last but not least, is the Typhoon Paper Glider
Which has a wide wingspan and a very small fuselage for a substantial amount of lift and long flight times? It is kind of shaped like an octagon; this glider is uniquely suited to be built of light to medium paper. The way this glider looks and performs makes it arguably one of the best paper airplane gliders.
By far, these kinds of paper planes have been tagged as having flown the longest and some of the farthest. Go ahead and experiment, fly them indoors and outdoors from standing height to launching them from high places! Have fun!