I'm a published children's book author, magazine writer, and technology blogger. In my spare time, I like to sew.
3 Ways to Make Boomerang Paper Airplanes
A boomerang paper airplane is a folded paper plane that flies back to you. Some designs fly in a vertical circle from low to high, and others fly in a more traditional horizontal pattern. All are loads of fun for kids to try, though there are some tricks to attaining success.
I tried three different paper airplane designs to see which design is the easiest to build and which gives the most consistent boomerang action.
- The first, a kid-friendly design, has only a few folds and relies upon tail-flap adjustments to get the plane to fly back to you.
- The second, an origami design, also has few folds, but flies back in a vertical loop instead of horizontally.
- The third, a more advanced plane folded by The Paper Airplane Guy, has numerous tricky folds, but results in a breathtakingly fun paper toy, even when the plane isn't folded perfectly.
My first plane, in fact, was quite the mess, but it performed well in spite of my questionable folding abilities.
How to Make a Boomerang Paper Airplane
To make this kid-friendly boomerang paper airplane, you will need one sheet of 8.5"x11" paper. (Copy paper works well.) Then:
A. "Valley fold" the paper lengthwise in half, making a sharp crease and open the paper.
B. Fold two corners to the centerline, making a point on one long end of the paper.
C. Fold the point down width-wise, so that it looks like an "envelope flap."
D. Fold the top corners of the paper down so that they meet at the centerline, just above the point of the "envelope flap." This time, there will not be a point at the top of the paper. (See photo or video for example.)
E. Now fold the small point of the "envelope flap" up, creasing it so that it stays folded.
F. Fold the paper lengthwise in "mountain fold" direction.
G. Fold the wings so that the edge of the paper lines up with the centerline.
H. Fold the tail flaps up so that the crease lines up with the back edge of the plane.
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You're now ready to fly! Hold the airplane to the side and toss it away from you, at a slightly "banked" angle. The plane should fly in a horizontal circle back to you.
- Adjusting the tail flaps will help make the airplane boomerang back to you.
- Shape the wings to make them slightly curved to help make the airplane boomerang back.
- See the table at the end of this article for my test results comparing this boomerang plane to other designs!
Boomerang Paper Airplane Instructions: Illustrations for Each Step
Instructions for Origami Boomerang Paper Airplane
This is a standard origami design that is very easy to fold. The boomerang action, though, is a bit different - the plane flies in a vertical loop from bottom to top, or "up and over" by some accounts. It is pretty consistent, however, and so it makes for a fun kid's boomerang paper plane.
To make this plane, you will need one square piece of origami paper. I used a piece of copy paper cut to 8.5" square.
A. "Valley-fold" paper in half and open.
B. Fold top corners down to centerline, coming together at mark "MM", and making a point at the top of the paper.
C. With point away from you, valley-fold point down so that it comes to mark "NN" which is about 3/4" below mark MM.
D. Valley-fold point up to mark "OO" about 3/4" above the horizontal top of the paper.
E. Valley-fold point down so that the tip is on the centerline, and in line with the top of the paper.
F. Refold the paper down the centerline.
G. Fold the wing down along the nose of the plane at an upward angle (see photo or video.) This creates the wings and the body of the plane. Do both wings. Open out the wings so that they are horizontal and flat.
Point the nose of the plane slightly downward and toss. It should loop down and then up, right back to you. In my tests,(see table below,) this -plane was a very consistent performer, but if your results differ, try shaping the wings to improve boomerang action. See the table at the end of the article to see how this plane compares to the others!
Origami Boomerang Paper Airplane Instructions: Illustrations for Each Step
How to Make Guy's Boomerang Paper Plane
There are variations for this boomerang paper airplane, some more difficult to fold than others. The plane folded by The Paper Airplane Guy leans towards the difficult, but I found that even if you don't fold it perfectly, the resulting plane still has plenty of boomerang action, and is a hoot to play with. I've broken down how I folded my plane below, but follow the directions in The Paper Airplane Guy's YouTube video for best instructions.
To make this plane, you need one sheet of 8.5"x11" paper. I used copy paper.
A. Fold paper in half width-wise. Orient centerfold towards you.
B. With paper still folded in half, fold the paper just enough to mark the center of the paper with a crease right on the centerfold line.
C. Then fold in one edge of the paper to that center mark just enough to make a crease at the 1/4 point on the centerline. (If you were to measure with a ruler, you'd make marks along the center fold at 2 1/8" and 4 1/4".)
D. Fold bottom left corner up to make a valley fold that runs from the top corner to the first crease mark at 2 1/8".
E. Lift the flap you just made and open the pocket to create "squash fold," lining up crease to edge.
F. Turn paper over and fold edge of "squash fold" to back. Turn paper to front with centerfold closest to you as before.
G. Fold down top corner close to tip of pocket, lining up left edges, making a valley fold that runs along top. Turn paper over and repeat, lining up edges before making the valley fold.
H. To fit the corner of the paper into the pocket, pinch corner in half, so that it fits into the pocket with open paper edges facing outward (as opposed to facing inward to the body of the plane.) Carefully wiggle the folded corner into the pocket until it is more or less even and edges are smooth.
I. If you've done the previous step correctly, you'll have a curved piece of paper that sticks out away from the plane. You want to flatten that curve by folding from the top outer edge of the pocket to the highest point of the pocket. Then finish by folding the top right corner down. (See photo and video.) Do H and I on the other side.
J. Now reorient the paper so that pockets are to your left and the centerfold of the paper is closest to you as before. Open up the wings by making a valley fold from the left most point to the top right fold. Turn the paper over and make the other wing.
K. Open the plane up so that the nose points towards you. Flatten the centerfold and squash fold the nose of the plane.
L. Turn the paper over and valley fold the nose to back.
M. Without turning the paper to front, Valley fold along the centerline.
N. Vally fold wing so that the body of the plane is about 1" wide. Repeat on the other side, matching up fold lines.
O. Create the wing flaps, making the folds so that they are slightly slanted upwards.
Toss the plane away from you and watch as it glides in a perfect, beautiful circle right back to you!
The Paper Airplane Guy has a number of interesting and helpful tips for wing shaping to get better performance, but I found that even if folded imperfectly, the plane performs quite well. See the table below for performance data, and enjoy making and flying boomerang paper airplanes!