Paper airplanes, and how turbulence effects them

We will test paper airplanes and see how they work and how to improve their performance
Azmain Rahman LuYi Zong
Grade 6


We think if the airplane is flatter it will be less disturbed by turbulence. Because if the plane is flater the air should cleanly cut into the air. Even though it might increase the drag the decrease of of turbulence from air can even it out. But making a shaper tip will probably also generate more spead, which creates more lift.


First of all we need to find out how paper airplanes work. A paper airplane has 4 different forces, lift, gravity, thrust and drag. Lift is what pulls the plane up, gravity is what pulls the plane down. Thrust is what pushes the plane forwards and drag is what slows the plane down. So were talking about turbulence right so why am I teaching you how planes work. Because those variables are what causes the planes behavior. So let’s get to the topic what causes turbulence, it’s simple really, drag and air. But the plane itself causes turbulence.


(Controlled variable: we’ll keep each planes ( in theory ) wingspan the same. But we might need to adjust it slightly because of the difference in width.

Manipulated variable: we’ll be able to control the velocity by experimenting with its weight, length, width and its shape in general.

Responding variable: the plane will respond to the different wind speeds and/or any blockage of wingspan.


First we made 6 different paper airplanes. We had to carefully measure each plane and examine the the differences of them. We then used a mini fan and threw each plane recording it in slow-mo to see the the difference in their flight.


If the plane is flatter it indeed will decrease turbulence and what’s interesting is that the number of folds also affects the planes performance. Around 5-10 folds is best and you know those little flaps at the end of the wing’s, those are important. Small folds at the back edge of the wing or the body allow you to control the flight of the plane


We had to closely examan what disturbs a paper airplane's performance, so we had to recored each plane two times, once facing turbulance and once facing nothing. Than we compare the differance of the one with turbulance to the one without any disruptions, than we compare each one to each other. 


We found out that a flatter paper airplane does perform better than a regular one. That is probably because nothing is blocking the airflow so it slowly runs through. Also think of it like this; the air supports the airplane by carrying it from the bottom and top. But also the most surprising thing is how it doesn't need a pointy tip to fly well. 



In our experament, we discovered that lift is actully mostly generated by the air presure on top of the wing instead of the bottem air preasure. since at the speed your paper airplane is moving, the fast air would be on the bottem of the wings. And faster moving air exerts low pressure, so that means slow moving air exerts high pressure. So if you want your plane to fly far, then it's best that you make your plane flatter. But if you want your plane to fly fast instead of far, than you should make the nose of you paper airplane pointy so your plane cuts through the air more easily, so it goes faster, since there's not a lot of air flow blocking it's way.

Sources Of Error

We tried making the the nose of the paper airplane heavier so it would give the plane a extra force that should be able to cut through the air and than let it glide better, but it just did barel rolls. Thats when we realized the size of the plane couldn't handle the extra weight.


We didn’t do a lot of research since this was experimental, but thanks to “Mark Rober” for giving us this idea check out his channel ( Mark Rober ). But I did watch a video explaining how paper airplanes fly. Heres the link if you want to see it:   https://youtu.be/3KqjRPV9_PY.


Mark Rober, Joe Ayoob Wired and CYSF for inspiring us to do tis project, and get pumped up about science.