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Although a model is much smaller than a real full-size aircraft, it flies in exactly the same way. The control surfaces on the wings and the tail of a model plane or real aircraft work by changing the way in which air flows over the aircraft. Working together, the rudder and movable flaps called ailerons on the rear edge of each wing make the plane turn to the left or right. Moving flaps called elevators on the tail make the nose of the plane go up or down.

The scientific rules of flying are the same for any aircraft, from an airliner weighing 350 tons to this model made from paper, tape, and a drinking straw. Making this model plane allows you to see how control surfaces, such as the aileron, rudder and elevators, work. The flight of any plane is very sensitive to the angle of the controls. They need to be only a slight angle from their flat position to make the plane turn. Too big an angle will make the model unstable.



Pencil, set square, ruler, paper, scissors, glue stick, tape, drinking straw, paper clips or nonhardening modeling material.

step 1

Draw two paper rectangles, 8¾ x 4in and 8 x 1¼in. Mark ailerons 2½ x ½in on two corners of the larger one. Mark two elevators 1½ x ½in on the other. Cut them out.

step 2
To make the wings, wrap the larger rectangle over a pencil, and glue along the edges. Remove the pencil and make cuts along the ½in lines to allow the ailerons to move.

step 3
To make the tail, fold the smaller rectangle in half twice to form a W. Glue its center to make the fin. Cut along the two ½in lines. Make a ½in cut on the fin to make a rudder.

step 4
Try adjusting the control surfaces. Bend the elevators on the tail slightly up. This will make the plane climb as it files. Bend the elevators down to make it dive.

step 5

When the pivot is near where you are pressing, more effort is needed to lift the book is now larger than the book’s weight.

step 6
Bend the left-hand aileron up and the right-hand aileron down the same amount. Bend the rudder to the left. This will make the plane turn to the left as it flies.

step 7
Bend the right-hand aileron up and the left-hand aileron down. Bend the rudder slightly to the right and the plane will turn to the right. Can you make it fly in a circle?

Launch your plane by throwing it steadily straight ahead. To make it fly even farther, use paper clips or modeling material to weight the nose.

Model plane


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