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Picture of The Incredible Flying Paper Tube

Do you stink at making a decent paper airplane? I do. So break the mold and follow this Instructable to make an awesome flying tube! This design was supposedly created by world-record paper airplane thrower John Collins. It's easy and only requires a single sheet of paper. Let's get started!

Step 1: Fold It

Picture of Fold It
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Start with your paper in "landscape" orientation and fold down the top third of the paper. It doesn't have to be precise, so long as its at least 1/3 of the paper. Make a nice crease.

Elethric made it!3 months ago
Very nice !
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offseid (author)  Elethric3 months ago
Yay well done!
GaryV501 year ago
Have you tried modifying cardboard tubes to try and accomplish the same thing, or soda cans with the ends cut off?
emcee21 year ago

its ok, nothin to call home about.

offseid (author)  emcee21 year ago

Thank you! :P

DIY-Guy2 years ago

My father showed me a variant of this when I was young, and it's still a fun aerodynamic ring/tube wing. Excellent indoor aircraft!

elotromaddog made it!2 years ago

I made this and it does fly but I need to practice thanks for your instructions

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offseid (author)  elotromaddog2 years ago

Way to go! Looks great! :)

Jimichan2 years ago

The way I learned this is to fold up a little fin with the loose edge in order induce spin. Also, you can make these in a left hand or right hand configuration by changing which side you tuck on the inside (although a right-hander can throw the left hand version underhand and vice-versa).

JorgeG522 years ago

Acho que se usar paginas de revistas ou papel de presente fica legal!

offseid (author)  JorgeG522 years ago

Yes, different is good!

RDWard2 years ago

A good reminder to take some time to push everything else aside sometimes and do what you did when you were 10 and had nothing else more important to do. Thanks.

offseid (author)  RDWard2 years ago

Exactly. :D Thanks for the comment!

On an episode of The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation with Mo Rocca, they showed a man who invented a launcher for a large, tough foam version of these -- for dogs to chase! OH, here's a link: http://www.cbsdreamteam.com/episodes/doggie-rocket-toy/

offseid (author)  DreamDabbler2 years ago

That's really cool, thanks for the link!!!

JorgeG522 years ago

Será que dá para ser feito com garrafas pet?

markDP2 years ago

Doesnt work

ShekharSahu2 years ago

Wow! this is brilliant.

ajayt72 years ago

Good one, I am going to use it for my grand child (-:

sahmada2 years ago
It was cool!
anv3D2 years ago

COOL!

doesn't work... :l

cool project it would be really awesome if you printed something cool on it like flames.

offseid (author)  Galaxytommy0162 years ago
Nice idea! Lemme think about that and upload something if I can.

I used this drawing of a city skyline, its not as eye catching as flames but it is still more interesting than blank paper.

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offseid (author)  Galaxytommy0162 years ago

Hey Kuala Lumpur - I used to live there! :) Nice.

mind blowing

Really neat. Can't wait to show my grandsons.

offseid (author)  thomasboudreau2 years ago
Great! Have a great time with them. :)
bretemaches2 years ago

Niceee!. Many thanks, will do it with my two children.

TommyH692 years ago

Was looking for a craft to do with my grandkids. It is easy and fun and it really flies. Good job team.

offseid (author)  TommyH692 years ago
Yay! Glad to hear. :)
suzans2 years ago

Made it with my kids and took it to local kids' makerspace. Kids tried variations with different cuts and folds making the tube spin and go in different directions. Great simple project to get kids to learn by experimenting.

offseid (author)  suzans2 years ago
One thing I enjoy doing (I may have mentioned this somewhere else in these comments): After I make the tube, I crumple it into a ball, and then open back up and reform it into as good of a tube as I can. Now, when I throw it, it has a really funny wobble when it flies, like it's a clunker or a beat-up old aircraft (which it is!).
Wei XunH12 years ago

Does anyone know the physics behind the tube design? How does this work?

the upper and lower surface act as the wings of a biplane. Using a circle removes the turbulence usually found at the wing tips.

It's known as an annular wing or circular wing. I don't know if any have made it to commercial/military production, but there have been many working protypes built and flown over the years.

Adding the spin like a thrown gridiron ball/torpedo punted AFL ball creates Bernoulli forces to give its flight stability and thus extra distance.

The ring design is an annular wing design.
Like most other paper airplanes, the lift generated is limited and it
is, in truth, more similar to a dart than a true glider.

This
particular design suffers from many problems which stem from its lack of
taping and limited measurements. Because its folds are not secured with
tape, asymmetric pockets can produce drag unequally; this can send the
plane off course. (This problem is visible in the video on step 4,
toward the end of the Ring's flight). Furthermore, because the
measurements and curvature of the design are approximate, the design
itself is very vulnerable to being unbalanced. This can lead the plane to
have continual stability problems--regardless of whether or not the
launcher is throwing it with spin to stabilize it with.

I avoided these issues when designing my comparable Vortex closed wing paper airplane by making its shape like that of a triangular prism.

TallTrav2 years ago

We used to make a plane of similar design in high school. We would fold the paper in half, on the diagonal, so the fold ran the paper between the opposite corners. Then you give it some weight by folding it every 1 cm or 1/2 inch until you got the weight you wanted for the leading edge, like yours. Tuck the long ends into each other and you were done. We called them "Pope Hats" or "Catholic Freedom Fighters". The christian brothers who taught us had a laugh.

I made this a few months ago with my kids. They had a lot of fun. I'm on leave next week and they're still on school holiday so I think we can give it another go.

Goldfinv2 years ago
Pretty cool. Made it
Galleli made it!2 years ago
Thank you ..
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