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Beginner's Guide to Aeronautics
Designing an Aircraft Model
If so instructed by your teacher, print out a worksheet page for these problems.

This activity will provide you with a chance to explore the Internet for aircraft design and make your own gliding aircraft using everyday items. Refer to the Beginner's Guide to Aerodynamics for information about the parts of an airplane.


  • paper
  • construction paper
  • tape
  • bathroom tissue roll
  • paper towel roll
  • drinking straws
  • activity sheet


  1. Click on Three Forces on a Glider.
  2. Read through the text.
  3. Click on Four Forces on an Airplane.
  4. Read through the text.
  5. Compare powered and non-powered aircraft.
  6. Go to Boeing Historical Commercial Photos (
  7. Consider features you may want to incorporate into the design of an aircraft as you look through the photos of the various aircraft.
  8. Click on the images to access additional data on a particular aircraft, such as span, length, weight, top speed, range, and type of engine. (Warning: downloading the information on each aircraft may take a while. Some, however, load very quickly.)
  9. Now that you have information, it's time to design an airplane. Use the materials available to you to design your glider. Make sure it is functional. Then print a copy of the Worksheet to use during the process of testing your glider.
  10. Test your glider. Throw your glider and measure the distance it travels. Repeat this six times and record your results.
  11. Insert your answers in the table shown on the Worksheet.
  12. Now redesign the glider, making some revisions that will increase the distance your plane travels.
  13. Repeat steps 10 and 11. These are trials 7-12.
  14. Plot your information on a graph showing the distance traveled in each trial.
  15. What comparisons can you make between your original design trials and the redesigned plane trials?

Related Pages:
Lesson Index
Aerodynamics Index


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Editor: Tom Benson
NASA Official: Tom Benson
Last Updated: Thu, May 13 02:38:39 PM EDT 2021

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