After a while of researching, I found that nobody actually knows how paper airplanes work and after experimenting myself, I can't really find much about it. If anybody does, have a good answer and has a better researching angle, please tell me.

  • $\begingroup$ Could you specify what you mean by actually? The aerodynamic forces on paper planes can be calculated with the same equations which predict the aerodynamics of a B747. Could you maybe point to a resource which states this lack of understanding? $\endgroup$
    – rul30
    Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 5:57
  • $\begingroup$ Our current understanding / assumption of physics is that the laws of nature are the same in the entire universe. Since airplanes fly by the laws of nature, the only way that paper airplanes work differently than normal airplanes would be if they fly in a different universe with different laws of nature. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 12:42
  • $\begingroup$ Navier-Stokes and basic physics apply to all. Their Reynolds number is quite different of course, but that's just cause of their relative size. You may as well ask if the Spruce Goose (or WWI aircraft) fly differently because they're made of wood. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 16:25

1 Answer 1


No that’s wrong. Paper airplanes fly by the same physics that allows a 747 to fly.


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