How to Make a Cardboard Glider

By Jane Smith ; Updated September 15, 2017

Things Needed

  • Copy of the glider template
  • Scissors
  • Plastic straw cut to length of the glider wing spine
  • Instant adhesive
  • Weights: pennies, paper clips, wooden beads or other small, flat objects

Gliders are designed with wide, angled wings designed to provide plenty of lift to keep the glider in the air. Gliders stay aloft longer without wind or power. They can be made any size, from a variety of materials. Cardboard is good for doll gliders or rider-less aircraft, but would not hold an adult aloft for long. Glider construction was an important stage in the history of flight. Leonardo Da Vinci, The Wright brothers and many other early aeronautics enthusiasts designed and attempted to fly gliders at various points during the history of flight.

Print a copy of the glider template. Fold the template in half along the dotted line, and cut a duplicate of the curve shown on the left side of the template into the right side of the wing. Cut away all gray shaded areas on both sides of the fold.

Use glider template to cut a piece of heavy cardboard into a glider wing. Cut a plastic straw to the correct length. Glue the straw to the spine of the glider wing.

Test your glider in flight. Adjust the angle, width and curve of the glider template to see if the new design flies better. Add weight, such as a paper clip, to the nose area of the wing if the tail tends to drag in flight. Add weight to the tail area if the nose rises too much or the plane flips over in flight.

Challenge friends, family, community members or fellow flight students to design a cardboard glider that stays in flight for a longer distance or that carries more weight, or both. Give prizes to the top three designers.

Create your own glider template and test it in flight.

About the Author

Jane Smith has provided educational support, served people with multiple challenges, managed up to nine employees and 86 independent contractors at a time, rescued animals, designed and repaired household items and completed a three-year metalworking apprenticeship. Smith's book, "Giving Him the Blues," was published in 2008. Smith received a Bachelor of Science in education from Kent State University in 1995.