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Power Up gives paper planes an electric boost


July 25, 2011

The Power Up electric power module allows users to mount an electric propeller on their paper airplanes

The Power Up electric power module allows users to mount an electric propeller on their paper airplanes

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Although they've been around for ages, for some reason paper airplanes have never been adopted for commercial use. It could be because they get soggy when wet, they lack any kind of flight controls, or because you would need an incredibly huge piece of paper in order to make one big enough to carry a human passenger. In any case, practical paper airplanes have now perhaps come a baby step closer to reality, with Tailor Toys' Power Up electric power module for paper airplanes - it allows you to mount an electric propeller on your paper airplanes, so they can fly under their own power.

The kit consists of a capacitor that clips onto the plane's nose, which is connected to a rear-mounted propeller via a carbon fiber shaft. The capacitor takes a 20 second-long charge from a separate battery pack, which contains three AA batteries. One charge provides enough power for 90 seconds of flight. That's probably plenty of time, considering that users presumably have to chase after their powered paper planes in order to get them back.

That being said, a neat add-on for future versions of this product might be remote-control ailerons, so the plane's flight could actually be controlled. Of course, once it got that complex, it would probably be simpler just to buy a complete RC model plane.

Although you can add the module to whatever design of paper aircraft you like, the Tailor Toys website does feature instructions on making planes that should work particularly well with the kit. The Power Up module is currently available on Amazon, starting at US$17.49.

The video below shows what kind of flight is possible with the device.

Source: ThinkGeek

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Many years ago, a craze started among Rank Xerox salesmen for flying paper aeroplanes from floor 20 of the Piccadilly Plaza office building in Manchester. The sizes increased to around newspaper proportions and a book was run on distance/duration records as they circled high above the \'bus station for minutes....without power! Great fun for everyone including the people on the ground. Of course some jobsworth, possibly the founder of our Health and Safety Industry, had it banned, so more \'power\' to the Tailor Boys\' elbows. Ian Colley.


It will never fly. Because as everybody knows, it\'s the shape of the wing and the Bernoulli effect that keeps a plane in the air.

Actually, I don\'t know why people still insist the shape of the wing is the only thing that allows planes to fly. That\'s just not true, because otherwise, paper airplanes (now they can be powered) or even the rubber band airplanes can fly perfectly well without any wing curvature.


Eletruk - I assume that from our post that you realize that the Bernoulli effect does not keep a plane in the air... it has little to do with generating lift at all. The Naked Scientists did a great scrapbook episode on the subject:


What a nice invention. Certainly it will fly. If you made paper airplanes and want them to circle, just bend down the back corner of one of the wings.

Adrian Akau

Imaclone - That\'s right. A lot of people still thing the Bournelli Effect is what gives lift when it does almost nothing. Otherwise how can planes fly upside down? It\'s all about angle of attack and if the paper plane doesn\'t get that right it won\'t fly. Thanks for pointing me to the Naked Science article, I\'ve been looking for something on the topic.


How about a tractor version?

Gregg Eshelman

It actually flies very well, you can see it in the movie and other movies on the youtube channel.


Coanda vs Bernoulli

I\'d like to hear an experts explanation but a quick review of the Coanda Effect and the Bernoulli Effect seem to indicate that Coanda Effect creates lift from the flaps when they are an extreme angle and Bernoulli Effect creates life from the fixed part of the wing.

That would also explain why The Naked Scientists link shows the wing at an extreme angle to the thrust vector.

A plane flying upside down does not disprove the Bernoulli Effect or support the Coanda Effect. There are many more principles in play in flight then these two and, besides, not all planes can fly upside down. Those that can usually sacrifice the ability to sustain forward flight, or sacrifice speed, etc.

For example, specialized stunt planes can fly straight up and then hover by using thrust in a vertical position instead of lift.


It is a very amazing achievement but it has no control so why pay money for 90 seconds of flight when it gets stuck in a tree.Even if someone flies it inside, there will be too much speed and it will just crash into a wall. HOW MANY BEATINGS CAN IT TAKE before the small motor at the front of the plane dies.


i present to you... RC \"PAPER\" Airplane!!

Mexoplex 5 Million

i wonder would it fly a lego plane and how fast is it rc

Domantas Vlasovas
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