Foam Walkalong Glider Gallery

Mr. Achmad Djafrulah in Indonesia

Mr. Achmad Djafrulah used to be a sailplane pilot and hang glider pilot when he was younger. I think his pilot experience helped with this outdoor flying, which is more difficult than flying through very still air, inside. Achmad said that he would be teaching a group of 15 kids to fly. I wish him the best and hope to see more pictures and video eventually. Thank you for spreading walkalong gliders in Indonesia!

Dr. Jerome Noir

For several years Dr. Jérõme Noir has been reinforcing theory in his Fluid Dynamics course with hands-on activities, including walkalong gliders. He and his students at the ETH Zurich University Institut fur Geophysik in Switzerland made a really fun video of their flying.

“Fluid” and “liquid” are often used interchangeably, but in scientific terminology “fluid” actually applies to both liquids and gases.

And here are the illustrations that Dr. Noir used for a PhD retreat lecture in Germany. Some are quite technical, but at the end there are some stunning pictures of tip vortices/downdraft.

It’s wonderful to connect with such an inspired educator at the university level, and I know from correspondence that Jérõme also takes the time and effort to present hands-on science activities in primary schools in Switzerland. Thank you Dr. Noir!

Brian Reed

Brian Reed created some cool flow analysis simulations for the Baby Bug and the board that deflects the air upward. On the glider simulation, the vortices at the tips—caused by the lower pressure on top of the wing-- really stand out.

I like the board simulation just as much. Anybody who has seen what happens when a glider goes over the top (it’s quite dramatic, head over heels) will appreciate being able to visualize the crazy turbulence behind the board.

Brian has been flying RC planes and helicopters for many years—and recently, walkalong gliders. He is from our home state of Pennsylvania but now lives in Illinois working for a nuclear and plasma physics company designing particle accelerators and specialty, high voltage power supplies for the semiconductor manufacturing industry. Thanks for the simulations, Brian!

I was curious about what effect changing the "angle of attack" of the glider would have. Brian simulated that, too. At the steep angles you can see the flow separation, turbulence that causes stalling. For comparison, check out these wings with various cambers and angles in a wind tunnel with smoke lines.

Dr. Tim Swait

Dr. Tim Swait with the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing, is also a keen hang glider pilot with several hundred hours logged. Hang glider pilots use "ridge lift" to stay in the air for hours; and walkalong gliders use the same principle to stay aloft. So Dr. Swait participated in the 150th anniversary of the Royal Aeronautical Society with a very hands-on approach: getting next generation of pilots flying with walkalong gliders.

Walkalong Gliders in Thailand

There are dozens of videos of young people flying walkalong gliders in Thailand on YouTube. This one is racing for speed and there are more with obstacle courses. It's cool to see people in the stands cheering the kids on, like a sport.

Bob Randall Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Bob Randall of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is passionate about flight. He received his first and only trophy for model building in 4th grade 1954. After that soloed glider at age 14 and later built a Cassutt and VariEze homebuilt with his Dad. Because of Gliders and Soaring, low speed aerodynamics have always intrigued him and loves sharing Walkalong Gliders with Kids and Adults. Likewise with Ham Radio it is joy to see kids on the air talking on the radio.

In 2018 I learned that Bob is researching a glider/soaring school that was started by J.C. Penney Jr. (of retail store fame) on Cape Cod from 1928 to 1930 (when the stock market crash ended it). There were German-built gliders, German instructors and about 120 students. Bob laments that he needs a time machine to go back to that amazing time!

Click to see bigger images.

The 2017 International Physics Tournament

The 2017 International Physics Tournament held in Sweden featured walkalong gliders as one of problems that university students had to solve with combination of experimental and theoretical approaches. The focus was on hands-only levitation, which is advanced. Thanks to Sebastian Fava from the Italian team for letting me know. He and Thomas Gustafsson of one of the Swedish teams have kindly shared their PP presentations, each with interesting technical investigation.
  Thomas' Power Point 
  Sebastian's Power Point

Jacquelynn Danek   The Reading Public Museum

Jacquelynn Danek brought walkalong gliders to the Reading Public Museum. Some museums have aggressive ventilation systems that cause turbulence, but Jaq scouted out for calm space ahead of time. With a group of 20 students (some as young as second grade), a limited amount of time and because it was her first time teaching the concept, she opted to make the gliders ahead of time. Under different circumstances in the future she said that she might have the kids make them. Knowing that the gliders are very delicate, she went with the "pet butterfly" approach and had only 2 broken "butterflies". They started in a circle, bending the wires checking the folds and covering troubleshooting. They tested and adjusted the glide, with most kids getting it on their own. Then Jaq showed them how to use the board and air-surf. Splitting into 3 groups, some had success right away, some got the hang of it with practice, and some were content with it just gliding. Jaq said that they had the gliders out at the parent show at the end of the week and everybody loved them.
Congratulations to a brilliant educator who took on a challenging project with a young group of kids! More about teaching groups to fly walkalongs here.

Walkalong Gliding in Japan

I always caution people to be prepared before trying walkalong gliding with a group. There needs to be someone in charge who knows how to fly themselves; calm air and emphatic cautions to handle the gliders very gently. So when people do all of that, the results are spectacular! This was their first time flying walkalong gliders at the USUI GAKUEN I'm ENGLISH SCHOOL summer English class (it involved science, too). Thanks to Carl for the footage. Also a homage to Mr. Mitsuhiro Nagamatsu, who pioneered very thin foam gliders of whimsical designs.

Yu Peng Canada

Although my main focus is teaching young people to fly, walkalong gliders are fun for older folks too. Also, check out the other cool science projects on Yu Peng's YT channel: electrostatic motors and flight, home-made speakers, aluminum batteries and more!

Pablo Betancur Colombia

Pablo Betancur is a dedicated teacher in Colombia. He sent this video of his students flying many different walkalong glider designs!
Sr. Betancur también creó tutoriales en español para hacer planeadores. Verlos también en su canal de YouTube.

John Biegun

John Biegun is the science teacher I wish I’d had. And the students in his science club really get into the hands-on projects. Here’s a great series of videos showing his students progressing: paper Tumblewings, Jagwing, Baby Bug and culminating with the giant Mama Bugs. Some of the kids built their gliders so well and became so skilled that they can fly with only hands or head! Great club, great teacher!

Check out John's Science Club pages. From unworldly hovering static creatures to rockets to giant bubbles , just look at the cool things his students are making! Here is John's YouTube Channel.

Walkalong Gliders Among French Artists

To say that Fabrice Dominici is a juggler and performance and circus artist hardly begins to describe him. He juggles things like boomerangs and paper airplanes! Fabrice is using foam walkalong gliders in a larger work intended to change the way we look at books. At first they use a book to divert the air and levitate the glider, switching back and forth among themselves. In the end they use their heads instead of the book to levitate the glider, with a desk lamp for illumination--which strikes me as an elegant metaphor! Below is a short video that Fabrice sent to me.

Walkalong Gliders in India

Bhaskar Verma is an undergraduate student in Tamil Nadu, India. He wanted to learn to fly walkalong gliders, then teach his friends. Everyone has trouble maintaining altitude at first, and I suggested that he keep the top of the board very close to the glider. That worked! Then he found a room where the air was still enough and taught his friends how to fly. The last I heard, he was going to work around his class schedule and teach students at another school. Bhaskar Verma once said that he was "not a teacher", but I think that he is a very good teacher.

Here is a mpg video of flying.

GrandadIsAnOldman England

GrandadIsAnOldman is the most prolific YouTuber of making high quality science projects. Here he is flying a walkalong glider.

Damien Leroy and Sophia

Damien Leroy is an extreme kite board champion and knows a thing or two about flying. He made this video of flying a Mama Bug (hands-only) with his friend Sophia. I also think there was some residual heat in the ground, creating some thermal lift.

Check out Damo's other amazing work.

Norm Rubin Tronto Canada

Norm Rubin IS struck by the total non-convergence (so far) of walkalong gliders and indoor glider-kites. The objects of the two seem virtually identical -- controlled indoor gliding, as slow and efficient as possible. Yet the materials and the technologies have been completely divergent, at least so far. Perhaps it's time for cross pollination between kite and along pilots.

Above, Norm is showing his fellow Toronto Kite Flyers club members how to surf of a wave of air. And what amazing, beautiful kites! Thanks to Carlos Simoes for pictures.

Lil-home-school-mama, MacGyver and Mini Mama

"Lil-home-school-mama" collaborates with her kids "MacGyver" and "Mini Mama" to share their amazing learning adventures with the world. They were kind enough to share feedback about the robot hand project with me, so I asked them to have a go with "walkalong gliders". They did great work, as always. In my latest correspondence with Lilhomeschoolmama she said,
“ Even hubby got in on the action, lol!

Katie from Florida

Katie in Florida not only mastered walkalong gliders using the foam I sent, she created a science fair project with the angle of board tilt as the variable. If you want to see the best example of how to use the scientific method and how to present your results--thorough and still clear--then click to see Katie's write-up.


Diego from Mexico

Diego from Mexico sent me some great video feedback about the putt putt boat, another project. Also, I saw on his YouTube channel some really interesting kite vehicle videos. I asked him to test foam gliders. I like the way he involves his family in projects. Now Diego is hot-wire cutting his own foam powered by a car battery, too. Here is more about cutting thin foam.

Nick and Jonathon in Atlanta, Georgia

Nick and his buddy Jonathon in Atlanta, Georgia..." love to solve anything that looks impossible." They were searching for the perfect paper airplane when they came across one of the sciencetoymaker videos about foam gliders. They didn't even have nichrome wire but found a substitute (I hear that thin metal guitar strings or fish line can work) and made a foam hot-wire slicer with an AC/DC adapter. And soon they were flying.

James Upham Resurgo Place Moncton, New Brunswick Canada

Another correspondent from the Great White North--James Upham, at a Science Centre/Museum called Resurgo Place--has a funny T-wing story. "One story I should tell you: we had an air show in my community (Moncton, New Brunswick) this summer; and, as a part of that, we had an opportunity to have pilots from the Canadian Air Force Demonstration team (called the Snowbirds) come in and interact with kids in our Transportation Discovery Centre. As a part of this program, we decided to build tumblewing gliders, so the kids and the pilots could fly together. By the time the Snowbird pilots got here, some of the kids had gotten pretty good at flying their tumblewings, so you had this situation where some kids would be flying figure eights around the room, while some of the best pilots in Canada were lurching around trying to figure out how to control the things! At one point a little boy of about 6 tapped one of them on the arm and said "don't worry, I'll show you how to do it"! I nearly busted a gut."

Mr. Anant Narayanan  Goa, India

Mr. Anant Narayanan is bringing walkalong flight (and flying airplane models) to people in India. He has designed a delta wing walkalong, seen in the embedded video, and has provided instructions--even a template. See it here.

David Elias

David Elias made these bird gliders with a church group. He said that he used weights as eyes and the tail allows for some adjustment. Beautiful feather pattern. There are more examples of gliders that look like birds, insects, even sea creatures here.

Wilfred van Norel The Netherlands

Wilfred van Norel, a teacher in The Netherlands, is showing students how to air surf. He has started cutting foam with the new design that uses screw threads instead of shims to set the thickness--including multiple cuts. Wilfred just discovered that even in the Netherlands the foam from seafood is discarded, so it's available for free. I think he will like the seafood packaging foam. It might be a little stronger and have fewer holes in thin slices.

A.J. from Kansas

A young person in , A.J., exemplifies what I hope to see more of around the world. A.J. not only built and learned how to fly foam gliders, but now he comes up with his own imaginative designs. Picture1: AJ with a Mama Bug he built. Picture 2: AJ's air fleet. Picture 3: A Big Mouth T wing that AJ--with a few twists and some straw weight--tuned into a biplane glider. Picture 4: a walkalong glider AJ created from a gum wrapper. He reports that Stride gum wrappers work best. Click on to see larger pictures.

Bill Kuhl

Bill Kuhl (pronounced "cool") is another great science educator, friend and the driving force behind, one of the best science project resources in the world. He flew a Baby Bug (formerly called Mosquito) glider outside after sunset, when the air was still. And when he flew over black pavement that was still warm from the sun--thermal soaring!

Dr. Makarius Tahim

Dr. Makarius Tahim, a Physices Professor, is not content to just dwell in the "ivory tower". He supplements his teaching with interesting curiositie., Then his students go to local high schools to help teach and establish a bridge to higher education. I like the way this video progresses. People get better at air surfing by the end.

Jonathan Beutlich's science club students

Paper Tumblewings aren't foam gliders, but I think everyone contemplating foam gliders should try T-wings first. They are easy and fast to build, using only phone book paper or newspaper. Tumblewings might be a little more difficult to launch and fly. but that makes them all the better practice for foam gliders. Jonathan Beutlich's science club students at the Calvin Christian School in California built and flew Big Mouth Tumblewings (instructions here) . Jonathan tells me they are looking forward to foam gliders. A longer version is here.

Jonathan Amparo in Thailand

Jonathan Amparo is a Philipino teacher at an international school in Thailand. He is experimenting with all sorts of hands-on science projects, including this triplane walkalong glider. It reminds me of Thomas Buchwald's student Jonas' biplane project. Then Jonathan added still more wings!

Audrey from Kansas

Also from Kansas is Audrey, who colored her Baby Bug. Does that resemble a certain Pokemon? Audrey reports that she had to readjust the glider after decorating it. Now she's starting to hot-wire cut her own foam. I'm hoping she'll create some videos soon. Half of my students are girls and they build and fly walkalong gliders as well or better than the boys (see them in aerial combat here) so I'm puzzled that more girls aren't sending feedback. Go Audrey!

Michele in Italy

Michele in Italy made a jagwing flight video, buzzing his parents who are trying to watch a soccer game.

Abhinav in Texas

Abhinav is a young person in Texas who provided helpful feedback about the foam air surfing kit. He has shown his friends, teachers and his 8 year old sister how to fly. If you click on the picture above, it will play an AVI file of him flying with only his hands. And he just made his own hot-wire cutter to slice out his own thin slices of foam. It's so encouraing to see these young people taking up and teaching walkalong flight!

Nyle Steiner in Utah

Nyle Steiner is an inventor, musician and great friend who lives in Utah. He first contacted me to show me how to electrostatically levitate common things around the house. Not walkalong gliding but very cool. I've learned from his method of investigating the science behind several projects. Nyle has a wonderful website full of DIY science projects. above you can see grandfather Nyle and two granddaughters flying outside (though be cautioned that it's often too windy to fly outside).

Ralph Hughes and His Cub Scouts

Here's a terrific video sent to me by Ralph Hughes, of his Cub Scouts learning to fly in England. In just a few seconds it has everything: the challenge and awkwardness of learning--particularly launching-- a helping hand and triumph as fellow scouts cheer on the pilot!  If the Youtube video is blocked clicking on the here is an 8MB 3GPP video file of the same.

Ralph Hughes sent such terrific feedback about another sciencetoymaker project, the periscope, that I asked him to test the foam glider kit. Soon he was designing his own foam cutter.

Soon he was designing his own foam cutter.

Ralph reports he can power it with either a 9 volt battery or 12 volot, 400ma adapter. He attached a micro switch on the side so the wire is only energised when needed, which reminds me of a kind of switch in an industrial application that could be activated by the foam directly. He said the wire is a single strand from a fishing trace, he burned off the outer nylon with a match. The washers determine the wire height, then he shims underneath with paper until he gets exactly the right thickness. Interesting spring tensioner (when the wire heats it expands) and wire attachment system.

David Williamson in England

David Williamson is a friend in England who invents all sorts of whimsical creations. Here he is cutting some foam, test-gliding and expertly flying in circles in a room (while his niece expertly operates the camera).

Thomas Buchwald in Germany

Thomas Buchwald is a "Technik" teacher of students in grades 6 to 10 in Germany. His glider creatures are so imaginative that he has his own page, Buchwald Bionics.

Michael Thompson

Hurray! Michael Thompson is now putting his work on YouTube. Mike is no less than the inventor of the Jagwing and he got us going with very thin foam for walkalong gliders. He is the only one I know who does not hotwire cut foam, using instead a band saw and—lately—a deli slicer! Mike is truly a master engineer and builder. I’ve seen him fly a walkalong glider that tows another glider. And check out his paper propellers! Read more about Michael Thompson.