DESCRIPTION: Make two pieces of wood into a simple helicopter.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Gregory Vogt, OSU
EDITED BY: Roger Storm, NASA Glenn Research Center
1/4 inch dowel rod 7 1/2 inches long
1 piece of pine or other soft wood 3/4x8xl/4 inches
Carving knife or wood rasp
Electric drill and 1/4 inch drill bit
Fine sand paper
I . Carefully mark center of the strip and drill a 1/4 inch hole.
2. Carefully carve or file the wood strip so that it becomes a propeller.
Shape the blades into airfoils. Remember to slant the airfoils in the correct
direction. Refer to the picture. Sand the blades smooth.
3. Push the dowel into the hole as shown in the figure. It may be necessary
to glue the stick to keep it in the hole. When dry, the wooden helicopter
is ready for test flights.
FLYING THE WOODEN HELICOPTER: Hold the stick between the palms of
your hands with the propeller upward. Rapidly move your palms in opposite
directions. The movement will spin the stick and the propeller. Let go of
the stick and watch its flight. If the stick moves immediately downward and
strikes your knuckles, reverse the directions of your hands. During a good
flight, the stick will climb straight up and settle gently, with the stick
end down, to the floor. If the flight is poor, check the blades. They may
be too thick or not cut at a good angle. Try reshaping both blades or shortening
just one if the flight is erratic. The length of the stick can also be shortened
to improve lift but if comes too short, it the wooden helicopter will become
The spinning motion of the wooden helicopter stabilizes it in flight. Each
blade acts like an airplane wing. As the blade moves through the air, the
pressure below the blade is lowered, and the air pressure above the blade
is lowered even more. The two pressures combine to provide lift so that the
wooden helicopter can fly.
TRY THE 'MAPLE SEED" HELICOPTER ACTIVITY PAGE
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