There are several ways to construct paper airplanes, and a multitude of airplanes to make--from simple schoolboy planes made of notebook paper to more elaborately constructed jet fighters made with classic origami folds. The origami-style paper jet fighter is only made from one square piece of paper--the larger the square, the bigger the jet. Once completed, a little artful effort with a marker can make the jet really come to life.
Place the square of paper on the table, one point toward you. If the paper is colored on one side and white on the other, as is origami paper, place the color side down. Bring the top corner of the square to the bottom corner, folding the paper in half. The resulting shape is a triangle.
Fold the triangle form in half, left corner to right corner. The shape is now a smaller triangle, oriented with the folded point to the top and left, the long open edge diagonally toward you.
Fold the top horizontally oriented edge of the paper to the left vertical edge, folding the paper in half. Crease the fold and unfold it again.
Take the right point of the triangle in toward the bottom left point, but make the fold parallel to the crease made previously. It should be 1 inch to the right of the unfolded center line. Unfold.
Fold the top edge of the triangle to the crease line you just made. This is one wing.
Fold the remaining layer of the top edge back behind the form, mirroring the previous fold.
Fold the bottom left corner of the form in toward the center line crease, as you did before. Again, the fold line should be 1 inch to the left of the center line. Unfold.
Push the bottom left corner up into the form, using the fold you just made to guide the movement smoothly. The bottom left corner should go in and up between the wings. It is now the tail of the jet fighter.
Position the form on the table so that the tail points away from you and the belly of the jet is toward you. Fold the top wing down along the crease line made in the first wing. Turn the paper over and repeat the fold on the back wing. Flip the form over again.
Fold the top layer right point of the form in, creasing the fold along the back edge of the jet. Unfold it and then tuck the point into the back edge of the jet. Turn the form over and repeat on the other side. Flip the form back over.
The tail is currently pointed away from you on the table. Push the point of the tail down inside the jet so that it reverses out on the other side. Once the tail is in its new position, press the form flat and crease the top folds. The top of the form is now a horizontal line, and the actual top of the jet fighter is toward you.
Place the form so that its bottom on the table. Press the wings down, so they’re horizontal and lay flat on the table.
Fold the upper tip of the tail down to the back edge of the tail. Unfold and re-crease the same fold in the opposite direction. Unfold it again and then tuck the tip of the tail, using the crease as a guide, into the tail. Crisp the fold once it’s inside. The fighter jet form is now complete. If desired, use markers to draw a cockpit or numbers on the tail.
Origami paper, because it’s typically a 6-inch square, works well for this project--but any piece of square paper will do. Keep in mind that a thicker paper results in more difficulty making precise folds.