Paper Airplane Launcher

Take your paper airplanes to new heights by making a motorized launcher for them.

Step-by-step tutorial

  • Step 1

    Gather your materials!

    Photo reference of how to complete step 1

  • Step 2

    Hot glue a flat rubber band around the outside of a wooden wheel. Repeat for the second wheel.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 2

  • Step 3

    Create a small plastic circle using the pushpin. Push the pushpin into the lid and trace around it with a marker. Repeat again to make a second circle.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 3

  • Step 4

    Cut out one of the small circles and hot glue it to the center of the wooden wheel. Repeat for the other wheel.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 4

  • Step 5

    Connect the battery leads to the loose wire leads.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 5

  • Step 6

    Connect the alligator clips to the free end of the leads.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 6

  • Tip

    Using the same colored leads and alligator clips will help you to remember what goes where.

  • Step 7

    Place batteries in the battery holders. Then, close them.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 7

  • Step 8

    Connect the free ends of the alligator clips to the motor as seen in the photo.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 8

  • Step 9

    Test the motors! Place each wheel onto the top of either motor and turn the battery holders on. Make sure that the wheels are spinning in opposite directions.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 9

  • Tip

    If the wheels are not spinning in opposite directions, switch the position of the alligator clips on the motor.

  • Step 10

    Disconnect the motors from the alligator clips. Then, hot glue the motors to the smallest wooden blocks so that the motors are flush to the top of the blocks.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 10

  • Step 11

    Fill the hole in the center of the wheel with hot glue so that it is as stable as possible. Scrape any excess hot glue off the top with a scrap piece of paper or cardboard.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 11

  • Step 12

    Mark the base ½” from either short side and 4 ¼” from the bottom. Then, hot glue the mounted motors on your mark. Note: The bottom is the end of the base closest to the mounted motors.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 12

  • Step 13

    Mark the base ¼” from either short side and 2 ¾” from the bottom. Also, mark the base ¼” from either short side and 3 ¼” from the top. Then, hot glue the the wooden poles on your marks.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 13

  • Step 14

    Paint the wooden runways so that they look like a real runway or design them however you like! This is where your plane will “take off” from.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 14

  • Step 15

    Hot glue the runways to the poles. Note: Make sure to leave about ¼” of space between the wheels and the runway.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 15

  • Step 16

    Connect the free ends of the alligator clips to the motors. Then, test them to make sure that the wheels are spinning in opposite directions.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 16

  • Tip

    If the wheels are not spinning in opposite directions, first check that the alligator clips on a single motor are coming from the same battery pack. If the wheels are still not spinning in opposite directions, switch the position of the alligator clips on the motor.

  • Step 17

    Now you’re ready to launch some paper airplanes! Load a paper airplane into your launcher and watch it fly away. Try angling your launcher by placing some books underneath it and see what happens!

    Photo reference of how to complete step 17

  • Tip

    You may want to have a friend hold down your airplane launcher when it’s on.

  • Learn moreMagnifying graphic

    Paper airplanes work just like regular passenger planes and fighter jets: by redirecting air to keep themselves airborne. As long as a plane is moving quickly, its wings will redirect a lot of air downwards, which generates an equal upwards force (lift). This lift is enough to bear the weight of the plane against the pull of gravity. Your paper airplane launcher is effective because it gives the paper airplanes a lot of speed, and therefore a lot of lift — plenty to keep the planes aloft for lengthy trips around a room (or until they hit something!)

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