Making a Classic Dart Paper Airplane

  • 01 of 06

    The Dart Airplane Is the Classic Paper Airplane Design

    playing with a paper airplane
    Wikimedia Commons

    The classic paper airplane using a handful straight folds on a standard 8.5- by 11-inch sheet of paper is the one that most of us learn how to fold as children. It is called a dart airplane, due both to its shape and flight pattern. The reason for its broad popularity is that the dart plant is a very easy model to fold, even if you have no prior knowledge of origami. In fact, many children who make play with dart paper planes have no idea that it falls under the category of origami. 

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  • 02 of 06

    Paper Airplane Trivia

    simple paper airplane
    Dana Hinders

    Paper airplanes are more than just simple, inexpensive children's toys. They have a surprisingly interesting history.  For example,  paper airplanes were used by the Wright brothers for development research before their first successful airplane flight on December 17, 1903. And during the 1930s, Jack Northrop is said to have used paper airplane models to test the aerodynamics of the larger aircraft he was building for the Lockheed Corporation. 

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  • 03 of 06

    How to Make a Dart Paper Airplane

    Dart plane diagram
    Wikimedia Commons

    The classic dart paper plane is made with a single sheet of letter-sized copy paper—the familiar 8.5 by 11-inch paper we all use. Plain white printer paper is fine, although children often like to decorate their planes with different colored designs.

    To make a dart paper plane:

    1. Fold a sheet of paper in half vertically, along the long axis. Unfold and lay the sheet flat.
    2. Fold the left and right corners down to meet at the center crease. Firmly flatten the folded edges so there are sharp diagonal creases.
    3. Fold the top diagonal edges down to meet in the center, aligned with the center crease. Again, firmly press the fold to create a sharp crease. 
    4. Fold the paper back against the center valley crease, and lay the folded paper on one side. 
    5. To complete the first wing, fold the diagonal side down so that it aligns with the center fold. Press firmly to make a crisp crease.
    6. Flip the plane over and repeat to form the opposite wing. Make sure the wings are shaped symmetrically to ensure straight, level flight. 
    7. Test-fly your plane. If you wish, you can add paper clips or tape to the wing of the plane to add extra weight, which may improve its aerodynamics and make it fly better.
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  • 04 of 06

    How to Make a Dart Paper Airplane With Square Paper

    Plane with square paper diagram
    Wikimedia Commons

    A paper airplane made from square paper is folded much the same way as a dart plane, but this design is designed more for slow, hanging flight rather than quick, dart-like flight. 

    1. Fold the paper in half vertically, along the long axis. Unfold and lay the sheet flat, with the folds corners facing up. 
    2. Fold the left and right corners down to meet at the center crease. Firmly flatten the folded edges so there are sharp diagonal creases.
    3. Fold the paper back against the center valley crease and lay the folded paper on one side. 
    4. Bend one wing over to make a crease that is parallel to the center crease and about 1 inch from it. 
    5. Open up the wings, then flip the airplane over.
    6. Bend the opposite wing over to match the crease in the first wing. 
    7. Straighten up the wings so they are parallel to the body, and test-fly your airplane. Here, too, you can use tape or a paper clip to experiment with adding weight at different points to see how it affects the aerodynamics of the plane. 

    Any number of folding variations are possible with square paper, such as Logan's simple paper airplane, a slightly modified dart plane. Or, you can experiment with turning up the outer edges of the airplane wings to improve its stability. 

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  • 05 of 06

    Paper Airplanes Folded From Currency Bills

    money origami airplane
    Dana Hinders

    To make a money paper airplane, simply fold a dollar bill in half before completing the standard steps for making a classic dart paper airplane. You will need to have a crisp, new bill for this model to be able to fly, however. A wrinkled bill will come apart when you try to fold it.

    A paper airplane made from a currency bill makes for a fun tip for your restaurant server or a special cash gift for a friend or family member.

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  • 06 of 06

    Variations

    paper airplane
    Wikimedia Commons

    After learning how to make a basic dart paper airplane, you can move on to folding more complicated designs. Many designs for intermediate or advanced origami enthusiasts build on the basic dart plane design.

    Paper Airplanes Headquarters has instructions for making five versions of the dart plane.

    • Hammerhead Paper Airplane
    • Barracuda Paper Airplane
    • Manta Ray Paper Airplane
    • Marlin Paper Airplane
    • Bottlenose Paper Airplane

    If sci-fi is more your thing, several of the planes in the Star Wars Folded Flyers book are inspired by the classic dart paper airplane.