How to Fold a Paper Airplane: Step-by-Step Guide

Flying paper airplanes is a classic childhood activity that has been enjoyed by generations. It’s a fun and creative way to spend time with friends or family, whether indoors or outdoors. However, not everyone knows how to fold a paper airplane properly. The wrong folds can lead to an unbalanced airplane that doesn’t fly well, resulting in disappointment for the creator. That’s why we’ve put together this step-by-step guide to help you fold the perfect paper airplane every time. With our tips and tricks, you’ll be able to impress your friends and enjoy hours of flying fun.



Paper airplanes are a classic childhood toy that never goes out of style. Whether it’s for fun or for learning, folding paper airplanes is an enjoyable activity that can be shared with friends and family. The art of paper folding, also known as origami, has been around for centuries and is an integral part of many cultures. Children have been making paper airplanes for generations, and the activity has evolved over time.

Origami is the Japanese art of paper folding, which originated in ancient China before spreading to Japan and other parts of the world. It involves creating intricate designs using single sheets of paper, without cutting or gluing them. Paper airplanes are a simple form of origami, but they can be just as entertaining and rewarding.

For many people, paper airplanes evoke memories of childhood. They were often made during class when the teacher wasn’t looking, or on lazy afternoons spent with friends. The act of folding a piece of paper into a plane and watching it soar through the air can bring back fond memories of carefree days gone by.

But beyond the nostalgia, paper airplanes can also be used as a valuable educational tool. Teachers have found that using paper airplanes in their lesson plans can help students learn about physics, math, and aerodynamics in a fun and engaging way. Students can experiment with different wing designs and see how they affect flight distance and stability.

In summary, paper airplanes and origami are not only a fun pastime but can also serve as a useful learning tool. In the following sections, we will go over the step-by-step process of how to fold a paper airplane, from choosing the right paper to adding decorations and testing your creation. So let’s get started!

Step 1: Choose the Right Paper

Paper Size

Paper Size

When it comes to making paper airplanes, paper size matters. While you can use any size paper to fold a paper airplane, the standard size that most of us are familiar with is 8.5 x 11 inches.

This paper size is easy to find and works well for making most types of paper airplanes. It’s also the perfect size for printing out templates or instructions for folding a paper airplane.

One thing to keep in mind when using this paper size is that it may not be suitable for larger or more complex paper airplane designs. In those cases, you may need to use a larger or different shape of paper to get the best results.

It’s also important to consider the weight of the paper you’re using. The standard 20lb copy paper works well for simple designs, but if you’re looking to make a more complex airplane that requires sturdier paper, you may want to consider using cardstock or other thicker paper.

Overall, 8.5 x 11 inches is a great starting point for making paper airplanes. It’s a versatile paper size that’s easy to find and works well for most designs. But remember, don’t be afraid to experiment with different paper sizes and weights to create unique and exciting paper airplanes!

Paper Weight

Paper Weight

When it comes to folding paper airplanes, the weight of the paper you use is crucial. In general, it is recommended that you use paper that is 20lb or lighter. This is because heavier paper can be difficult to fold and may not fly as well.

But what exactly does “20lb or lighter” mean? Paper weight is measured in pounds per ream (500 sheets) at a standard size. For example, standard printer paper is usually 8.5 x 11 inches. A sheet of this paper weighs approximately 20lbs when measured as a ream.

Using paper that is too heavy can make it difficult to achieve crisp folds and sharp edges, which are important for the aerodynamics of the plane. On the other hand, using paper that is too light can make the plane flimsy and fragile.

To ensure that you have the right paper weight, you can check the packaging or label on your paper. If you are unsure about the weight, you can also perform a simple test by folding a corner of the paper. If it folds easily and holds its shape, it is likely 20lb or lighter.

In addition to choosing the right weight, it is also important to consider the quality of the paper. Higher quality paper will have a smoother surface, making it easier to fold and creating better flying results. You can find specialty origami paper or printer paper marketed specifically for paper airplanes, but standard printer paper is often sufficient.

By selecting the appropriate paper weight, you can enhance the overall quality and performance of your paper airplane. So, whether you’re making an airplane for fun or participating in a competition, remember to choose wisely!

Color and Materials

When it comes to creating a paper airplane, the color and materials you choose can make a big difference in the final result. Here are some tips for selecting the best paper for your project.

Plain White Paper

This is one of the most common types of paper used for making paper airplanes. It’s affordable, widely available, and easy to fold. However, plain white paper can be on the thin side, which can cause your plane to fly poorly or not at all. For best results, use a slightly heavier weight paper, such as 20lb printer paper.

Printer Paper

Printer paper is another popular choice for making paper airplanes. It’s slightly thicker than plain white paper, which gives it more stability and makes it easier to fold. Additionally, printer paper is available in a variety of colors, including bright shades that can add personality to your design.

Origami Paper

Origami paper is a great option for those who want to take their paper airplane crafting to the next level. It’s specifically designed for origami projects, which means it’s strong, durable, and easy to work with. Additionally, origami paper comes in a wide range of colors and patterns, so you can create planes that are truly unique.

No matter what type of paper you choose, it’s important to handle it carefully while folding. Avoid crumpling or wrinkling the paper, as this can affect the final product. With a little practice, you’ll be able to create paper airplanes that soar through the air with ease.

Step 2: Fold the Wings

Basic Wing Design

Basic Wing Design

When it comes to folding a paper airplane, the wings are an essential component that greatly influences the flight performance. The basic wing design for a paper airplane is a simple triangle shape with straight folds.

To create this design, start by folding the paper in half vertically and then diagonally to form a right triangle. This will create two equal halves of the paper. Next, fold the top corners down to the center crease, forming two more triangles. Finally, fold the entire wing in half along the center crease to complete the triangle shape.

The key to achieving a successful triangle-shaped wing is to ensure that all of the folds are straight and even. Any unevenness or crooked folds can result in imbalanced flight and affect stability.

While the basic wing design may seem elementary, it serves as the foundation for more complex designs. Experimenting with different wing shapes and angles can greatly impact the flight behavior of your paper airplane.

For instance, increasing the angle of the folds will increase the lift generated by the wings, allowing the plane to stay airborne for longer periods. Similarly, decreasing the angle of the folds will decrease lift but generate more speed, resulting in a faster and shorter flight.

In conclusion, the basic wing design for a paper airplane is a simple yet crucial aspect of the folding process. By mastering this technique, you can create a stable and well-balanced paper airplane that will soar through the air with ease.

Fold Angles

Fold Angles

The fold angles of a paper airplane play a crucial role in determining its flight path and distance. Understanding the different fold angles is essential to create a well-balanced and stable paper airplane.

45 Degrees

A 45-degree angle fold creates a sharp and pointed wingtip. This angle is commonly used for fast and long-distance flights. A paper airplane with a 45-degree angle fold is ideal for outdoor flights, as it can easily withstand wind resistance. However, this angle may not work well for indoor flights or flights that require more precision and accuracy.

60 Degrees

A 60-degree angle fold creates a slightly broader wingtip compared to the 45-degree angle fold. This angle is ideal for creating paper airplanes with good stability and balance. Paper airplanes with a 60-degree angle fold tend to fly slower, but they are more accurate than those with a 45-degree angle fold.

90 Degrees

A 90-degree angle fold creates a wide and flat wingtip. This angle is ideal for creating paper airplanes that require more lift and airtime. Paper airplanes with a 90-degree angle fold tend to fly very slowly, but they have excellent gliding abilities. These types of planes are ideal for indoor flights or flights that require precision and accuracy.

In summary, the fold angle of a paper airplane plays a significant role in determining the plane’s speed, stability, and accuracy. Choosing the right angle for your paper airplane depends on the purpose of the flight and the environment where you will be flying it. Experimenting with different fold angles can help you determine which angle works best for your paper airplane designs.



Creating a symmetrical paper airplane is crucial for making sure that it flies straight and far. Here are the key steps to follow to achieve symmetry:

Aligning Edges

One of the most important aspects of creating a symmetrical paper airplane is ensuring that the edges align perfectly. This means that when you fold one side of the paper over, it should match up exactly with the other side. To achieve this, use your fingers or a ruler to gently press the folded edge down so that it lines up with the other side.


Another way to ensure symmetry is by measuring the paper as you fold it. Use a ruler or a measuring tape to make sure that the wings and body of the airplane are the same length on both sides. This helps to maintain symmetry and balance, which are both essential for a successful flight.


Finally, creasing the paper correctly is essential for achieving symmetry. Make sure to crease the paper firmly and evenly along each fold line. This not only creates a crisp, clean edge but also ensures that both sides of the paper airplane are identical.

By following these key steps – aligning edges, measuring, and creasing – you can create a perfectly symmetrical paper airplane that will soar through the air. Remember that symmetry is key to a successful flight, so take your time and be precise in your folding. With practice, you’ll become an expert at creating symmetrical paper airplanes that fly straight and true every time!

Step 3: Create the Body

Fuselage Design

Fuselage Design

The fuselage of a paper airplane is the body that connects the wings and tail, and it plays a critical role in determining the flight performance of your creation. When designing a fuselage, there are several factors to consider, including its shape, size, and weight distribution.


One of the most common shapes for a paper airplane fuselage is a simple rectangle. This design offers a streamlined shape that minimizes air resistance and allows the plane to glide through the air more smoothly. A long and narrow fuselage is also beneficial for reducing drag, as it creates less surface area for the air to push against.


The size of your paper airplane’s fuselage will depend on several factors, such as the wingspan, weight, and desired flight distance. A larger fuselage can help to distribute weight more evenly across the plane, which can improve stability and control during flight. However, a smaller fuselage may be better suited for speed-oriented designs, as it can reduce overall weight and create less air resistance.

Weight Distribution

Achieving the right weight distribution is essential for creating a well-balanced paper airplane. The fuselage should be designed to distribute weight evenly between the front and back of the plane, with the center of gravity slightly forward of the midpoint. This will ensure that the plane flies straight and level, without dipping or stalling.

Overall, the fuselage design is a crucial element in the construction of a paper airplane. By choosing a rectangular shape, making it long and narrow, and ensuring proper weight distribution, you can create a plane that glides smoothly through the air with impressive stability and control.

Fold Lines

Fold Lines

One of the most crucial steps in folding a paper airplane is creating clean and sharp fold lines. These lines serve as a guide for the subsequent folds, ensuring that the final airplane looks neat and flies straight. Here are some tips on how to create perfect fold lines:

Crease Firmly

When making fold lines, it’s important to crease the paper firmly along the edges using your fingers or a flat tool, like a ruler or a bone folder. A well-creased line will hold its shape better and make it easier to fold the paper accurately.

Avoid Gaps

Gaps in your fold lines can cause the paper airplane to look lopsided and hinder its performance. To avoid gaps, make sure you align the edges of the paper properly before creasing. Use a flat surface, such as a table or desk, to avoid any bumps or unevenness that could affect the accuracy of the fold.

Another technique to avoid gaps is to use a blunt object, like the edge of a credit card, to press down on the crease after folding. This helps to smooth out any bumps or wrinkles in the paper and ensures a tight and secure fold.

By taking the time to crease firmly and avoid gaps, you’ll be able to create crisp and precise fold lines, resulting in a beautifully crafted paper airplane that is both aesthetically pleasing and flies smoothly through the air.

Air Resistance

Air resistance is a crucial factor when it comes to the flight of a paper airplane. To achieve maximum distance and stability, it’s essential to consider the shape of your design. A streamline shape with a narrow body can help to reduce air resistance and improve its flight performance.

Streamline shapes are aerodynamic designs that reduce air resistance by guiding the airflow around the object smoothly. In the case of paper airplanes, this means that a curved or pointed nose can make a significant difference in how far it travels. By minimizing the amount of air that pushes against the plane, you can increase its speed and distance.

Additionally, a narrow body can also improve the flight performance of your paper airplane. When the body is too wide, it creates more surface area for air to push against, which can cause drag and slow down the plane. A narrow body reduces the amount of air that interacts with the plane, allowing it to maintain its speed and momentum for longer.

One example of a paper airplane design that incorporates these principles is the classic dart. Its streamlined shape, pointed nose, and narrow body make it one of the most efficient paper airplanes for distance. The dart’s design allows it to fly fast and far, while its narrow wings help to stabilize it during flight.

In conclusion, understanding the importance of air resistance and how to minimize it can make a significant impact on the performance of your paper airplane. By using a streamline shape and a narrow body, you can reduce drag and increase speed and distance. Consider incorporating these principles into your next paper airplane design for optimal results.

Step 4: Finish the Plane

Tail Design

Tail Design

The tail of a paper airplane may seem like a minor detail, but it can actually have a significant impact on its flight performance. The tail serves to stabilize the plane and keep it from spinning out of control during flight. There are three main tail designs commonly used in paper airplanes: flat, upturned, and downward sloping.

Flat Tail Design

A flat tail design is the most basic and simple option. It involves folding the tail down at a 90-degree angle, creating a flat surface at the back of the plane. This design is best suited for planes that require a lot of lift to stay in the air, such as those with larger wings or heavier materials. The flat tail helps to create more drag and stabilize the plane in flight.

Upturned Tail Design

An upturned tail design involves folding the tail up at a 90-degree angle, creating an upward curve at the back of the plane. This design is ideal for planes that need to travel farther distances and maintain speed. The upturned tail helps to reduce drag and increase lift, making the plane more streamlined and aerodynamic.

Downward Sloping Tail Design

A downward sloping tail design involves folding the tail down at a slight angle, sloping downward toward the back of the plane. This design is best suited for planes that need to perform tricks or stunts in flight, such as loops or sharp turns. The downward sloping tail helps to increase stability and maneuverability, allowing the plane to make quick and agile movements in the air.

In conclusion, the tail design of a paper airplane is a crucial element in determining its flight performance. Whether you choose a flat, upturned, or downward sloping tail, each design has its own unique benefits and drawbacks. By experimenting with different tail designs, you can find the perfect balance of stability, speed, and maneuverability to create the ultimate paper airplane.


Decorations are an essential part of any paper airplane design. Luckily, there are many options to choose from when it comes to adding some personality to your creation. Whether you prefer markers, stickers, or paint, let’s take a closer look at each option.

Using markers is a quick and easy way to add color and designs to your paper airplane. They come in a wide range of colors, so you can choose your favorites or mix and match for a unique look. You can also use them to create patterns or write messages on your plane. Just be careful not to make the paper too wet with ink, as this can affect the aerodynamics of your plane.

Stickers are another fun way to decorate your paper airplane. They come in all shapes and sizes and can be found in most craft stores. You can choose from themed sticker sets, such as animals or sports, or go for a more abstract design. Stickers are easy to apply and can give your plane a polished look in no time.

If you’re feeling artistic, you can use paint to customize your paper airplane. Acrylic paint works well and dries quickly, but you can also use watercolors or even spray paint. Keep in mind that painting your plane will add weight, which can affect its flight. To avoid this, try to use thin layers of paint and let each layer dry completely before adding more.

In conclusion, decorations can add a personal touch to your paper airplane and make it stand out from the rest. Whether you prefer markers, stickers, or paint, the possibilities are endless. Just remember to keep the weight in mind and have fun experimenting with different designs!

Testing and Adjusting

Testing and Adjusting

Once you’ve finished folding your paper airplane, it’s time to test its flight capabilities. There are a few key factors to consider when testing and adjusting your paper airplane for optimal performance.

Flight Distance

The distance your paper airplane flies is a good indicator of its overall design and aerodynamics. To test the flight distance, find an open space free of obstacles and throw your plane with a level, smooth motion. Measure the distance traveled and adjust your plane as needed for improved results.


Stability plays a crucial role in how well your paper airplane flies. A stable plane will maintain a straight path through the air, while an unstable one may veer off course or tumble out of control. To test stability, throw your plane at a moderate speed and observe its flight path. Adjust the wings or tail as necessary to improve stability and control.


Balancing your paper airplane is essential for achieving maximum flight time and distance. A well-balanced plane will have an equal distribution of weight throughout its structure. To test balance, hold your plane by its nose and see if it remains level. If one side dips or rises more than the other, adjust the weight distribution by adding or removing paper from specific areas.

By testing and adjusting these key factors, you can fine-tune your paper airplane for optimal performance and achieve impressive flight results. With some practice and experimentation, you’ll be able to create a customized design that soars through the air with ease.



In conclusion, folding paper airplanes is not only a fun activity but also a nostalgic one that brings back childhood memories. Many of us have fond memories of creating different designs and testing them out with our friends or family members.

Aside from its entertainment value, paper airplane folding also offers several benefits. Firstly, it helps to develop fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and spatial awareness. These skills are essential for many activities, including sports, music, and art. Secondly, it encourages creativity and imagination. Kids and adults alike can experiment with various designs and decorations, allowing them to express their individuality and uniqueness. Lastly, it provides an opportunity for bonding between family members and friends. It’s a simple yet engaging activity that brings people together and creates lasting memories.

Moreover, paper airplane folding is not just limited to children; adults can also benefit from this activity. Many companies use paper airplane competitions as team-building exercises, which help strengthen communication, collaboration, and problem-solving skills. In addition, some enthusiasts take paper airplane folding to the next level by participating in competitions where they showcase their skills and designs.

Overall, paper airplane folding is a timeless activity that offers numerous benefits and endless possibilities. It’s a great way to spend quality time with loved ones, bring out your inner child, and create something unique and beautiful. So why not give it a try? You never know what you might discover or create!
After following these simple steps, you should have a vibrant and aerodynamic paper airplane that is ready to fly. Remember, the right paper is essential, and symmetry is key when folding your wings. Also, don’t forget about the body and tail design, as they can greatly influence the flight distance and stability of your paper plane. Creating a paper airplane is not only a fun activity for all ages but also an excellent way to boost creativity and improve spatial reasoning skills. So, next time you have a spare piece of paper lying around, why not fold it into a paper airplane and see where your imagination takes you? Let your inner child soar!

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