Instructions for building and flying a paper Rogallo wing

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By Everard Cunion, August, 2011

This paper glider is not a Rogallo wing in the strict sense because it does not use the airflow that results from its flight to hold its shape. However, its shape resembles that of the early (1970s) standard Rogallo hang gliders, which inspired its design.

It is asymmetric and it tends to be unstable in pitch, but it is simple to construct and – when you launch it just right – its glide is impressive. It is easy to build, requiring no cutting, gluing, or the adding of weights, but it is tricky to launch.

I claim copyright on this design from 1979.

Construction

Step 1

Lay two sheets of paper on a flat surface, overlapping as in the first photo. Note the slight open ‘V’ at the tail, which is optional.

Photo of paper glider under construction

The nose is at left

Step 2

Photo of paper glider under construction

Folding the first ‘ear’ back


Fold the ‘ear’ back.

Step 3

Photo of paper glider under construction

No need to stick it down. The next job is to turn the whole thing over.


Next, turn the whole thing over.

Step 4

Whole job turned over ready to fold back the other 'ear'


Fold the other ‘ear’ back to form the nose.

Photo of paper glider under construction

Second ear folded back. Again, you do not need to stick it down.

Step 5

Photo of paper glider under construction

Fold in half lengthwise and crease the fold.


Fold in half lengthwise and crease the fold.

Photo of paper glider under construction

Nearly there...


At this stage, you can see there is more weight of paper at the nose than the tail, which is correct. The aerodynamic centre is at about the quarter chord point.

Step 6

Photo of paper glider under construction

Fold and crease to form one leading edge.


Fold and crease to form one leading edge.

Step 7

Photo of paper glider under construction

Both leading edges are formed.


Turn over and repeat…

Step 8

Photo of paper glider under construction

Roll rather than fold to impart an aerodynamic section.


Most paper darts rely on a crease in each half to approximate an aerodynamic shape. You could do that here, but to obtain the desired Rogallo shape, use both hands to roll it tightly.

Photo of paper glider under construction

The shape of the conical Rogallo


When it springs back out, you should be left with a partial cone. When you have rolled both halves, the result resembles the standard or conical Rogallo. (So called because it consists of two partial cones.)

Photo of paper glider under construction

Underside view

Step 9

Photo of paper glider under construction

Add a Concorde nose.


Next, add a ‘Concorde’ kink near the nose. How near? A bit nearer than in the photo (as it turned out – it dived with the kink that far back.)

Photo of paper glider

Ready for first flight test

Top view of another one

Top view of another one

Rotated to show the nose flap, a characteristic of this design

Rotated to show the nose flap, a characteristic of this design

Underside view

Underside view

Rotated

Rotated

Launch

Because it is unstable and its launch technique a critical acquired skill, it needs still air, so it is suitable only for flight indoors or in absolute calm outdoors.

Photo of paper glider

My thumb is under the left wing, forefinger on top


Hold between thumb and two fingers at the tail, and gently push it until it starts to fly, and which point – if you get it right – it flies out of your fingers and begins a graceful glide across the room.

If, when you feel your launch angle and speed is right, it tends to stall, move the camber aft slightly. If it tends to dive, move the camber forward.

Practice, practice, practice! And patience…

Related

Space flight and hang gliding (including a photo of Francis Rogallo flying his own invention)

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