Paper plane and launcher.

This launcher gives your plane a speedy launch!

The launcher gets the thrust it needs from a rubber band

Looking for some flying fun? This paper plane launcher gives your plane a speedy launch!

hazard iconSafety: When launching your plane aim it away from people’s faces and animals

You will need

  • A paper plane. For the plane we used, see instructions here
  • Square of cardboard, approximately 20 x 20 cm
  • Thin rubber band
  • Stapler

What to do

  1. Red card folded in half.Fold the cardboard in half down the middle.
  2. Folded red cardFold one side in half again, and then turn it over.
  3. Red card folded twice into concertina 'M' shapeFold the other side in half too. Your card should now be concertinaed into an ‘M’ shape launcher.
  4. Stapling a rubber band to red cardAt one end of the launcher, near the central crease, attach the rubber band using a staple.
  5. blue paper plane sitting beside red card launcher with rubber band stretched tight.Pull the rubber band taut and loop it around the outside and over the far end of the launcher.
  6. Paper plane sitting in launcherInsert your paper plane into the central crease of the launcher. The nose of the plane should face the end where the rubber band is stapled.
  7. Holding launcher by outside flapsHold the launcher by the outside flaps.
  8. Paper plane flying out of launcherLaunch the plane by pulling the flaps outwards. Experiment pulling the flaps quickly or slowly to see what flies best! You could also try it with different styles of paper plane.


What’s happening?

This launcher packs a punch! The paper plane goes from stopped to flying in just 20 centimetres. It gets the thrust it needs from the rubber band.

When you stretch the band around the launcher, it stores a lot of potential energy. Lifting the flaps releases the band, and it quickly shrinks, releasing all that energy. But the plane gets caught on the band, so lots of that energy goes into the plane instead!

Did you know?

It can take a lot of runway to get a jet into the air. Airliners take off at speeds of about 250 kilometres per hour and it can take a while to get up to speed. The main runway at Sydney airport is almost 4 kilometres long.

Unlike airport runways, aircraft carriers can’t be as long, so they give their aircraft an extra boost. A special machine, called a catapult, pulls the plane up to flying speed in less than 100 metres!

Aircraft lined up on an aircraft carrier deck.

You can see steam escaping from this catapult after it launched a plane!
Image: ©

You can see steam escaping from this catapult after it launched a plane!

Image: ©


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

By submitting this form, you give CSIRO permission to publish your comments on our websites. Please make sure the comments are your own. For more information please see our terms and conditions.

Why choose the Double Helix magazine for your students?

Perfect for ages 8 – 14

Developed by experienced editors

Engaging and motivating

*84% of readers are more interested in science

Engaging students voice