Laboratory Experiment Of Paper Airplanes Research Paper

Length: 8 pages Sources: 1+ Subject: Physics Type: Research Paper Paper: #68594739 Related Topics: Fedex, Informative, Temperature, Aviation
Excerpt from Research Paper :

¶ … Airplanes

Physics Experiment

The study carries out an airplane experiment that investigates the concepts of lift, drag, and design using the paper airplane experiment. The report used a "standard" paper airplane as a baseline, and modified the plane in different forms to test whether the performance and flight distance of the plane are faulty or improved. Additionally, the report includes the scientific questions, the context of the questions, an explanation of why the question is important/interesting/relevant to the outside world. The report also discusses the variables, materials, and methods used for the experiment. More importantly, the study explains the specific steps used to carry out the experiment, and the guideline that may be employed to achieve replication by a third party wishing to repeat the same experiments.

Scientific Question

The general scientific question explored is as follows:

How a "conventional" airplane with no modifications for drag, structure or shape is compared to other planes modified in a single and specific way?

The difference that needs to be investigate is:

How far the plane flies based on the variable that changes for each paper airplane designed and flied?

The questions are very important because the structure of the paper airplane can be translated into simple and albeit crude experiment, which can be easily correlated to the way the real-world airplanes are constructed. Indeed, large jumbo jets such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is very big when it comes to size and weight yet it flies similar to the way a bird flies using powerful engines, wings and tails to lift and balance itself in the air. The aforementioned Dreamliner is built with lightweight materials, however, it is still extremely heavy when it starts to takeoff because of its weight of roughly half a million pounds and a maximum landing weight of nearly four hundred thousand pounds. However, the plane is able to fly at nearly the speed of sound (Mach 1) using between 556 and 600 miles per hour (Modern Airliners, 2015).

The study attempts to reveal that while the Dreamliner is a huge, however, it can be maneuvered in a way that seems defying gravity, which is one of the concept of physics. In the same manner, it is clear during the experiments that very minor tweaks in the design and structure of a paper airplane has a demonstrable and obvious effect on how far the paper airplane flies. Further, the tips and tricks used to modify the paper airplanes were taken straight from the same lessons learned when constructing the modern airplanes and back to the original Wright Brothers airplanes.

Furthermore, the airline industry and aviation industry have obvious and massive implications regarding many aspects of life including commerce, civilian transportation, military transportation, military warfare, surveillance and reconnaissance. Indeed, the concepts of flight, drag, lift and travel affect all people globally in some degree. For example, airline industry affects how fast a FedEx package is delivered to customer and how long it takes for a consumer to fly from Los Angeles to New York. The industry also had a direct implication on the attack of the World Trade Center in 2001. The implications of airplanes and what they do (and how they are wielded) are present everywhere and easy to observe for anyone paying attention (Nagy, 2015; Benson, 2015).

Variables and Constants

Independent Variable:

Weight of Paper Airplane

Dependent Variable:

Distance (cm) of flight

Constant Variables:

Type of paper used for the experiment

Design of plane,

How to throw the plane, and?

Where they author throws the plane.

Control Plane Parameters

The Fig 1 reveals the paper airplane serving as the "control" airplane. The paper airplane in the picture is not an actual plane seen everywhere, however, the study used the picture as model of a real plane and follows the precise procedure of the author. (Instructables, 2015).

Fig 1: Paper Airplane

Source: (Instructables, 2015).


It is just a folded piece of paper. The precise procedure used to create the paper airplane is briefly summarized below:

1) Take a normal 8.5x11 sheet of paper and fold in half the long way (with the folded edge being along the long edge of the paper)

2) Unfold the paper with the long edge being parallel to your body. Take the upper left corner and pull it down to the center fold ... flatten the 45 degree angle edge created on the upper left side.

3) Repeat step 2 for the right side.

4) Fold the left side again ... again aligning the edge to the center fold done in step one. Repeat for the right side. Flip the plane over (so the folds are facing down)

5) Reverse the fold done in step one (so the two newly created wings are on opposite sides of the center of the paper rather than being folded together

6) Fold down about a third of each wing against the paper. Do this on both sides. Once the folds are created, unfold the wings so that it forms the plane as being revealed in Fig 1. (Instructables, 2015).

Other Control Parameters

The overall environment for the plane flying tests was obviously well-controlled. The control variables that were in place for all plane flights were as follows:

All flights done in a rectangular shaped room measuring 15 feet by 40 feet.

All flights done the "long" way in the room (so as to allow up to 40 feet of air travel, rather than just 15 feet)

Room was carpeted ... rather than tile or hardwood. Thus, the planes would not "slide" upon landing. Rather, they stopped moving immediately upon hitting the ground. The room was selected precisely for that reason.

The room had a height of eight feet and four inches (from floor to ceiling)

Walls and ceiling in the room were all conventional dry-wall. All surfaces on the ceiling and walls were smooth (i.e. no popcorn ceilings or textured look)

Room consistently held at 70 degrees Fahrenheit. This was set via thermostat and verified via thermometer at the point of flight. However, blower/vents were turned OFF for all flights so as to not influence the flight path/distance. When the temperature rose, flights were paused until the air conditioning brought the temperature back to 70 degrees.

Absolutely no objects on the floor in the path of flight (e.g. furniture, etc.) ... just bare carpet. Carpet was semi-shag ... about a half an inch to an inch in length on each "hair" of the carpet.

All flights conducted with back facing one of the shorter (15 feet) walls with the entire 40-foot length of the room being the overall field of flight.

All planes were made with the same brand, size and shape of copier paper. Specifically, the paper was Office Depot "Copy & Print" standard printer paper. Similarly, the paper was 8.5x11 inch ... standard letter size and white in color. Papers were all completely dry and were not modified in any way unless specifically noted in this report. Thus, the weight of each paper is identical minus anything being added to the plane.

Movement of the author of this report was restricted to the arm motion to launch the plane ... absolutely nothing else. Absolutely no movement from the author after launching the plane until it lands and is still.

Exact same throwing motion used for ALL launches. Moderate and smooth release of each plane just before the hand starts to go downward. Right hand used for all flights (dominant hand for the researcher)

All flights done with the plane upright and level. In other words, the fold that faces down was always precisely perpendicular to the floor

Nose of plane always completely level upon launch. No upward or downward tilt of the nose/tail.

The Different Planes Used

1) Folded paper with no modifications (control)

2) The control plane with the edges of the plane curled up in a gentle "C" shape

3) The control airplane but with the center fold of the plane stapled so that the top surface of the plane is one flush surface (rather than being a "V" shape)

4) The control plane with the back edge of the top of the wings folded up (one half an inch worth of paper comprises the fold). In other words, like the spoiler on a car.


1) The control airplane will perform decently but will absolutely not be the best of the bunch.

2) The plane with the folded up tail will be the poorest of the bunch.

3) The furthest flying planes will be the curled wing plane and the stapled plane.

4) The curled wing plane will do better since it will get more lift due to wing shape but is not weighed down by the staples

5) Combining more than one of the above could lead to an even better performance (not tested in this experiment,) (Scholastic, 2015).…

Sources Used in Documents:


Benson, E. (2015). Planes, The. Retrieved 20 August 2015, from

Instructables. (2015). How to Make an Easy Paper Airplane. Retrieved 19 August 2015, from

Modern Airliners. (2015). Boeing 787 Dreamliner Specs - Modern Airliners. Retrieved 19 August 2015, from

Nagy, A. (2015). The 19 Most Badass Spy Planes. Gizmodo. Retrieved 20 August 2015, from
Scholastic. (2015). What Makes Paper Airplanes Fly? -- Scholastic Teachers. Retrieved 19 August 2015, from

Cite this Document:

"Laboratory Experiment Of Paper Airplanes" (2015, September 28) Retrieved January 20, 2022, from

"Laboratory Experiment Of Paper Airplanes" 28 September 2015. Web.20 January. 2022. <>

"Laboratory Experiment Of Paper Airplanes", 28 September 2015, Accessed.20 January. 2022,

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