This is such a cool project that I had to include it in our Flying Machines archive. The science teacher who developed this project has a sincere love of gliders he calls “walk-along flyers”. Note that the instructions for making this project are longer and more precise than usual, so take your time and go slow.

If your kids love airplanes, you’ll be able to keep them busy for hours with this project! You will be flying a piece of paper, surfing it on a wave of air created with cardboard. Are you ready?  There are two different designs to choose from: the Tumblewing, which works by rotation, and the Hanglider.

Here’s what you need:

  • piece of paper from a phone book
  • scrap of cardboard
  • scissors
  • help from a very patient adult
  • an afternoon (this project is super-sensitive and you need time and persistence to accomplish it!)

Tumblewing Design

You’ll need to print out this Tumblewing template to get started.

Hanglider Design:

You’ll need to print out this Hanglider template to get started.

A big THANKS goes out to projects developer and science teacher Slater Harrison for his ultra-cool flying inventions!

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11 Responses to “Surfing Hangliders”

  1. I also had trouble with this particular project, and I found that the air had to be absolutely STILL… not even people walking around, in order for it to work. Try it in different parts of the day and see if this affects its hovering ability?

  2. Cynthia Lancaster says:

    The tumblwing is very cool. I did everthing right to make it, and fallowed instructions as perfectly as I could. My tumblwing flys strait, and its folded right, Im holding the board correctly, but after a LOT of practice, I still cat keep it in the air for more then like two seconds. What should I do? I did not have phone book paper big enough for the template, so I used normal paper. I had no cardboard, so I used a plastic lid the same size as the card board would be for beginners. Should I practice more? What can I do to get it flying?

  3. Deliese Kubie says:

    It’s working just fine now, thanks! Not only are we learning about air currents and flight, but we are all learning patience too! My 12yo found it easier to “hand surf” her tumblewing. We think she’s just weird! None of us have the proficiency of the kids in the video yet, but I’d guess that they’ve practiced more.

  4. Oops! Sorry about that…try again?

  5. Deliese Kubie says:

    We tried to print the tumblewing template, but the link gave us a 404 page not found error. The origami hang glider template printed just fine.

  6. These videos were not on our site, but actually pulled from another using You Tube. We’ve had complaints about this, not technical issues like you’re having, but rather how parents don’t want their kids going to another site from ours – they wanted everything on one site they know is completely safe for their kids. So, added to this your technical problem, we decided to host these on our site and request permission from the author to do so (we’re still waiting to hear back – he’s a really nice teacher who is totally passionate about science, too!). You should be able to watch these videos shortly – try again soon!

  7. Larae Tjoelker says:

    We are working on the Origami Hang Glider. We see where the video directions should be on the screen, but for some sad reason they are missing. We have done all of the other experiments until this section. We are really wanting to get the directions. We were able to print the template, but that is all.
    We would like some wisdom,please.

  8. Science Teacher says:

    The videos have been updated to make construction easier – try again!

  9. Hi Emma,

    I am sorry you’re having trouble! This particular project can be very tricky, as it requires a keen eye and lots of patience to not only fold it correctly but troubleshoot as well. When I get frustrated with a project like this, I’ll often move onto another activity and work through it before returning back to the original project.

    This accomplishes two things – first, it gets me feeling a sense of accomplishment (and a lot better, too!) as I successfully complete the second project, which also gets me into a more resourceful state. When I’m frustrated, I’m not very resourceful, observant, or at my best for solving science problems. Second, it frees my mind up to other possibilities that I might not have seen had I stayed focused on the first project alone (I’ll notice subtler things, like a wingtip flare, or asymmetrical wing fold, or… etc)

    So keep this in mind when working through the projects – remember that the overall goal isn’t to get this particular project right (well, it’s not the only goal), but to help your child learn how to deal with frustration when it arises in life (and science is the perfect forum for helping them learn how to handle this). As a parent, I know how tempting it is to want to clear the field of obstacles and have kids feel successful on the first shot… but since life isn’t like that, this is a golden teaching opportunity to show them how to step up and work through challenges.

    Okay, so to answer your question directly, though… you’re right – the air needs to be dead still in order for this wing to work at all. Even the air moment from your body (if you zip around too fast) is enough to steer it off course. And remember, heat rises, so if it’s hot where you are, you’re going to have thermals (updrafts!). When I created these, the first half dozen I made didn’t work as shown in the video. Since they are soooo lightweight, I had to make sure-triple-sure that the wing was symmetrical and folded just as instructed.

    Don’t give up! But if you need a breather, try creating the slingshot rocket, hanglider, or stunt flyer before heading back to this project.

  10. PS I was referring to the tumblewing.

  11. Hi Aurora, We are very frustrated. We found the correct paper finally, and we worked on folding it correctly. It is flying a bit but veers off to the right or left randomly. I suspect it is either air currents pushing or incorrect folding, but my son is very frustrated with the whole thing. We have been working in the hallway of our apartment building — there is almost no air in there to speak of as it is not air conditioned nor do we have an draft at all. It is like suffocating heat there. Is a lack of air a problem?