Paper Airplane and Wingspan
Country: United States
Date: October 2007
How does the wingspan affect the flight time of a paper airplane?
What might be of interest to you is a aircraft design characteristic
called aspect ratio. The aspect ration (AR) is equal to the wingspan
divided by the mean aerodynamic chord (MAC). The greater the AR the
greater the glide ratio... or said differently, the greater the
distance an airplane will glide when released from a given altitude.
The MEA is the average distance from the leading edge of the wing to
the trailing edge of the wing. If the wing is rectangular, it makes
the calculation easier.
A high aspect ratio (and therefore the higher glide ratio) is found
on wings that are long and narrow. Have you seen pictures of the
high performance gliders? The wings are very long for how wide they
are. (the width of the wing is properly called the chord,)
The problem in designing a glider (paper or not) is strength. Long
skinny wings are not very strong and tend to flap up when released
in the air. A delta wing has a very low AR... but it is strong. It
does not glide very well.
You might find these web sites interesting -
This is a fun subject. Enjoy!
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Update: June 2012