Why Your Paper Airplane Sucks — Tips for Throwing and Adjusting Paper Airplanes

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so you just folded a sick paper airplane

and it looks amazing when you throw it

it is nothing short of an epic fail

so what's the deal in this video I will

be teaching you how to throw and adjust

your paper airplanes so they fly as well

as possible I'll teach you the basics

about control surfaces on real airplanes

and then we can use that information to

adjust and improve the flight of our

paper airplanes but there's something we

should talk about first if your plane

isn't flying well the very first thing

you should consider is symmetry ask

yourself does the left half of my plane

look like the right half if the answer

is a definite no then that's almost

certainly your problem for a plane to

perform at its best it needs to be

symmetrical asymmetry can cause a plane

to turn spiral dive and crash in many

different ways you may need to refold

your plane being careful to make exact

creases and maintain symmetry but don't

give up yet even if your plane is

asymmetrical there's still hope the rest

of this video should help you compensate

for the differences between the two

halves of the plane another likely

culprit for poor flight is bad throwing

technique even the best planes can fly

poorly with a bad throw so getting this

right is crucial to its performance

however there isn't just one proper

throwing technique for all paper

airplanes to throw a plane properly you

need to first correctly identify what

type of paper airplane it is paper

airplanes generally fall into two


gliders and darts gliders tend to have

wide wings and fly at slow speeds if you

launch them gently they'll glide across

your room but if you throw them too hard

they'll crash because they're weaker

wings can't withstand high speeds

without performing darts on the other

hand are meant for those blistering

speeds but improper technique can still

cause them to crash as well if you tilt

the plane to the left or to the right as

you launch it it will likely turn in

that direction try to launch it so that

the vertical axis of the plane is

perpendicular to the ground

if you are throwing your plane properly

but it still doesn't fly well then it's

time to make some small adjustments to

improve its performance the first

adjustment to consider is to give your

plane's wings positive dihedral angle

what is that you ask well it's actually

quite simple all you have to do is angle

the wings slightly upward

if the wings angle up the plane is said

to have positive dihedral angle if they

angle down the plane is said to have

negative dihedral angle or the wings are

considered an heed rule by applying

dihedral angle to a plane's wings you

increase the stability of the plane now

if the plane tips to the right or to the

left it will naturally want to correct

itself this works to stabilize the plane

for a couple of reasons but I'll have to

discuss those further in another video

at this point we've covered the very

fundamentals of throwing and adjusting

your plane in the next few minutes we'll

be looking at how to fix specific issues

in the performance of your plane but to

understand why your paper airplane flies

the way it does it helps to first talk

about control surfaces on real aircraft

and you can stick around for that if you

want a true education but if you want a

quick fix you can skip ahead in the

video I've put a time stamp here for you

for those of you sticking around a

control surface is the moving portion of

any flying surface pilot utilizes

control surfaces to steer the plane in

the direction he or she wants to travel

there are several different types of

control surfaces and each serves a

different purpose but they functions

similarly here's a list of the control

surfaces found on planes

if rudders elevators ailerons elevates

the stake a quick look at what each one

does rudders control the yaw of a plane

and are used to help with turn left or

right a rotor is located on a vertical

stabilizer of a plane essentially a

vertical stabilizer is a surface that is

either perpendicular to the wings or

nearly perpendicular to the wings it

helps prevent the plane from rolling

unintentionally and gives it directional

stability on real planes the vertical

stabilizer is usually a tail but on many

paper airplanes the only vertical

stabilizer is the body of the folded

plane on a real plane the pilot operates

controls that cause the rudder to start

deflecting air in this example the

rudder has been set to stick out of the

left side of the tail as air passes by

the plane it hits the rudder and gets

deflected to the left that pushes the

tail to the right but as the tail is

pushed to the right the plane rotates

around its center of lift if the tail

goes right the nose goes left so to turn

the plane left air must be deflected

off the left side of the rudder to turn

the plane right there must be deflected

off the right side of the rudder

elevators control the pitch of the plane

they determine whether a plane goes up

or down and are located on the tail they

operate using the same principles as the

rudder in this example here the elevator

is set to stick out above the tail this

two flex air upward enforces the tail

downward again because the plane rotates

around its center of lift the nose is

forced upward and the plane climbs

ailerons controlled the role of a plane

on real aircraft there on the outside of

the main wing by adjusting one up and

one down air is forced in opposite

directions causing the plane to roll and

Ella Vons are just a control surface

that functions both as an elevator and

an aileron most paper airplanes utilize

these rather than having distinct

elevators and distinct ailerons and

finally we have flaps which extend to

give a wing of an aircraft in greater

area and greater lift this allows a

plane to fly at slower speeds and aids

in takeoff and landing paper airplanes

don't have flaps though so I won't say

much more about them we can use this

knowledge of control surfaces on real

planes to adjust the flight of our paper

airplanes let's take a look at some

common problems and use these principles

to fix them if your plane turns and you

want it to fly straight the solution is

to make a rudder adjustment again

rudders are located on vertical

stabilizers so the first thing you'll

need to do is identify the vertical

stabilizer of your plane on paper

airplanes a vertical stabilizer can take

a lot of shapes but the main vertical

stabilizer is usually the part of the

plane that you hold to throw it I'll

show you some other examples now so you

get the idea

once you've located a vertical

stabilizer you're ready to make the

necessary adjustment if your plane is

turning to the left you essentially want

to make it turn more to the right so

you'll make a rudder adjustment to the


bend the vertical stabilizer slightly to

the right small adjustments go a long

way here so give it a throw to test it

and then make additional adjustments if

necessary if the plane turns to the

right and just make a rudder adjustment

to the left now if your plane dives or

doesn't glide as well as you like and

this is a really common problem actually

then all you have to do is make an

elevator adjustment elevators are

located at the rear of the plane on a

horizontal wing just bend the wing

upward slightly on both sides of its

Center again small adjustments go a long

way if you've been the wing too much

your plane will climb in stall and then

crash so don't do that if your plane is

rolling and you want it to fly level

then you'll have to make an aileron

adjustment if your plane is rolling

clockwise bend the outer edge at the

left wing slightly upward or the outer

edge of the right wing slightly downward

if it's rolling counterclockwise reverse

those instructions also know that your

plane may need to be adjusted in more

than one way before it's flying as well

as possible and you can use these same

principles to intentionally make your

plane turn flip and spiral if it's

flying straight all you have to do is

into the elevators upward to make it do

backflips and if you want it to turn

just make a rudder adjustment to make it

spiral adjust the ailerons so experiment

and have fun and with that you have the

basics for throwing and adjusting your

paper airplane you should be able to fix

any problems you encounter or make your

plane fly as crazy as possible I hope

you guys found this video helpful let me

know in the comments if you have any

other questions or even if you have

suggestions on how to trim your plane

properly good luck flying be sure to

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always thank you for watching