Adults are finding that many of the pursuits that were formerly considered “childish” are actually helpful for meditation, simple fun, and inspiring creativity. Adult coloring books, adult Lego sets, and adult Nerf weaponry is jumping off the shelves. These allow grown-ups to get in touch with their inner child, and help keep their development arrested. Another arena that has grown in popularity is crafts, including the art, science, and skill of paper airplane construction. Any delinquent can do this, but doing it with skill and precision combines engineering, hand/eye coordination, creativity, and, of course, paper.
Since origami is tough – and isn’t meant to be thrown, making it ungodly boring – we decided to kill trees and do something with our TPS reports and expense ledgers that was interesting. Thus, we discovered the 16 best paper airplane designs for fun, flight, and inter-office betting.
There’s no reason to go over the top when it comes to making a paper airplane. Classics are that way for a reason, and the dart is as traditional as they come. Made for distance and simple to fold, there’s no need to overthink, underthink, or even really think at all.
Here’s what all those pretentious swans should be. Instead of taking hours of training, you can whip up a serviceable gull in just a few minutes, only this one can survive an Alka-Seltzer attack without bursting. A drifting glider with solid distance performance, it has aesthetics to spare.
Sharp and fast, The Concorde isn’t going to necessarily win many distance competitions, since it’s so streamlined, but it’s a nasty dogfighter that will take down any bogies that head into your airspace. Cut hard and accurate, it’ll rip holes in those ceiling snowflakes that Betty from HR keeps hanging up around the holidays.
Perhaps not an exact replica of the Star Wars Tie Fighter, this is a respectable facsimile which has the basic design of the troublesome tie, and bears the same whirlygig acrobatic action that the short-range space-to-space combatants have. Good for twists, weak on distance.
Fun paper planes that are more than one-trick ponies are hard to come by. The stunt plane has a dense build with wings that are easily manipulated to get a wide range of effects. Every bend or flex will offer up a new result, and the overall wide, flat fuselage provides loads of lift that lets it stay aloft for proving its acrobatic chops again and again.
Using the same aerodynamics that went into the actual F-15, without wasting billions like the government did, you can get a lot of distance and speed out of this design, and can tweak it for a few flips and turns if you so desire. Also not bad for painting up and pimping out, if you’re hoping to impress the asperger’s sufferer in your life.
Almost purely decorative, the White Dove is a handy accessory to craft mobiles for infants, or a cheap way to sorely disappoint your friends at their wedding. Drop a thousand of these off the roof of the church and watch the guests laugh and laugh as the bride plots your death.
A moderate variation on a pretty standard plane, the look is nothing to crow about, but the accuracy is unrivaled. Capable of handling numerous throw speeds, the rear gap keeps airflow centered for a bullseye accurate launch every time. If it misses the mark, it’s operator error.
Using the same basic idea that allows the Straight Man to fly true gives the Star Flight a nice flip to its personality. A few adjustments to the scoop on the front, and it will do complete turns in the air. Endlessly entertaining as you adjust and throw, adjust and throw, it will waste almost as much time as binge-watching, without the crippling circulation issues.
A dual set of wings, with canards up front and the tailfins bringing up the rear, The Spyder bears an unusual look, and permits you to adjust it for more twists, turns, and aerial feats than a standard single-wing design will. Limited on distance, it can also be rigged to hop off the back of a glider plane mid-flight, for some quick Quinjet action.
Stealth fans who live or work in places with active paper radar need this in their arsenal for clandestine twilight ops so that the Secretary can deny all involvement. There’s simpler, lighter versions if that is what you crave, but we like the faithful reproduction done here because: awesomeness.
This bird-inspired paper airplane does more than look good, it can give you worthwhile gliding distance that more closely emulates an actual bird of prey. Functional, delicately decorative, and best of all, easy to fold; there’s no one who can’t find something to love here.
A weaving plane with an impressive hang-time, the Swallow is favored by many enthusiasts for its capacity to be altered for more distance, more speed, or a more meandering flight plan. Probably our favorite glider in the sky, it doesn’t just drift along aimlessly, but can be weighted down to move like a balsa wood plane, giving it some real panache when life requires.
We didn’t name it, so don’t send us your complaints that there’s no such thing as a “king” bee. What this does is offer a gentle wobble while it flies that looks like a drone seeking out flowers to violate for their sweet, sweet pollen. A better bug-style plane than the plain cicada, it’s also fairly easy to make.
Though hardly what we would expect from an flying object that the Airforce will claim is heat lightning, what we like about the UFO is the way it is thrown. Rather than gripping it in your sticky fingers, it slides off the end of your hand, making the launch steadier for anyone who hasn’t had a drink in a few hours and is getting the blue shakes.
Getting a tight spiral with a football is something that many people, like Mark Sanchez, have failed to get right. Putting the perfect spin on a paper plane is something almost no one can do, unless they have the secret ingredient. A little practice is all it takes to get a rifled spin time and again with this little dervish.