František in the Czech Republic

František in the Czech Republic

I received this picture and video from František, a young man in the Czech Republic. František cut his own foam, experimented with the Baby Bug and Thompson Jagwing gliders; and he created this elegant, charming biplane from 2 Jagwings. His glider also has a tail, and his video shows very well the challenge. If the updraft of air hits the glider more in the back or the front, then the glider dives or stalls. I have asked František to experiment with holding the board at a less steep angle and see if it is any easier to fly. David Aronstein has created many walkalong glider designs with tails, and in his interview did a great job of explaining the challenges and how to mitigate them. Thomas Buchwald , Mike Thompson and Heinrich Eder have all created cool walkalong glider designs with tails.

KTG 10 and His Little Brother

I really like this video. It appears that this young man hands off the camera to his little brother and then demonstrates formidable flying skill. He reports that he made the front weight from scrap copper wire. I now advise people to start with the Jagwing because the Baby Bug is more complex; but this young person got it right--perhaps an aerospace engineer in the making!

Ashutosh Bhakuni from India

Contrary to what I’d hoped, I rarely get substantial feedback about walkalong gliders; but when I do, it’s precious. Ashutosh Bhakuni has provided the most detailed and helpful feedback—from a beginner learning to make and fly gliders, to best strategies for teaching groups to fly. Based on the insight gained in our discussions, I’ve set about making a new instructional video series about walkalong gliders (a work in progress and will be for months to come).

Our correspondence grew to great friendship. I learned that Ashutosh was volunteering for a youth development group as he attained his degree in computer engineering. Instead joining a lucrative IT company, he ‘downgraded’ himself by getting an MA in social sciences and joined an NGO’s hands-on science program. I admire him so much, and not just for his work bringing hands-on science experiences into schools; Ashutosh has also expanded my awareness of social justice issues and interesting things in the world.

Ashutosh's Facebood post and YouTube channel

An Update from Dr. Tim Swaits

Dr. Tim Swait just sent this video of Korean students beginning to fly walkalong gliders.

He wrote:
Slater, still getting lots of use from your walkalong gliders! Here’s a group of Korean students we gave them to. I find that it works well if you want to introduce a competitive element to run a relay race. Split the group into teams, every person has their own glider but one board per team. The board then acts like the relay baton that they pass on at the end of the room. If people want to be competitive then they can add extra weight to increase the wing loading and make the glider fly faster! It was interesting to do a comparison between a glider trimmed for min sink rate (minimum possible amount of weight as far forwards as possible, min possible washout), one trimmed for max glide (a little more weight but not so far forwards to maintain a slightly rearwards CG position still with min washout) and one trimmed for racing (much more weight and max washout), not very efficient but very stable and if you can run fast enough to keep up with it then you’ll get across the room most quickly! –Tim

More about Dr. Swait and walkalong gliders.

Whimsical Remote Control Flying Balloon Object

Here is a video of Hanetama (lit. “Winged Sphere”), a RC flying balloon object with flapping wings, from Tyoukogatalabo’s (loosely translated as “Micro Flying Object Research Lab”) YouTube channel. He says he used 4 servomechanisms and controlled it with a TARANIS transmitter. He has also uploaded videos of all sorts of other fun flying things, like a cat-shaped ornithopter. (He loves cats.)

SciencetoyMaker at the Smithsonian Institute July 14th 2018

The Boeing Aviation Hanger at the Udvar-Hazy Center (Image from

It looks like SciencetoyMaker and friends will be at the Smithsonian Institute’s annex museum: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington Dulles International Airport. We’ll be there flying walkalong gliders and other hands-on science projects from 10am to 3pm on Saturday July 14th. More information coming as we nail down details. Hope to see you there!

Justin in California

Justin in California said that he got the foam gliders for his 3 boys, but it’s clear that he gets as much of a kick out of flying walkalong gliders as his kids! I also like that his video shows that the gliders are slow and maneuverable enough that you can fly them in a house–not just in a school or gym.

Justin made and flew one of the paper rotating designs first before getting foam gliders. Paper is free and people who work with that kind of glider first seem to have a really easy time with foam gliders–even if they struggle with the paper ones.