Back to the foam glider home page
Back to the sciencetoymaker home page

Part 8
Now What?
If you've built and flown the foam gliders, congratulations! In addition to impressing people and having fun, you have a greater intuative grasp of aerodynamics that most people. That knowledge will serve you well if you build and fly model planes or take up hang gliding. And at get togethers with kids you will be the person designated to create fun/educational activities.

There is still lots more walkalong gliding to explore, too. Although they might be too challenging for beginners, with your experince you can try paper walkalong gliders. You can learn about the fascinating history of walkalong gliding, which is intertwined with hang gliders and human-powered flight. You can witness how new forms of walkalong flying are developing around the world.

Join the fun of spreading and developing walkalong flight. I'll post pictures of people flying and link to uploaded videos. It's encouraging for prospective flyers to see that it really can be done.

Finally and most importantly, no one person has all the good ideas. I am aware of fewer than 20 people around the world who are trying new things with walkalong gliding. Sure, a few of them are aerospace engineers, but most of us are tinkerers, teachers, students...ordinary people. We bounce ideas back and forth. Invariably, that cross pollination makes ideas better and spins off new ideas. Contact

Making Walkalong Gliders from Paper
For a further challenge you can make walkalong gliders out of paper. Usually telephone book paper is best: lighter than printer paper and stiffer than tissue paper. I do not think paper gliders are ideal for beginners. Paper is heavier than foam so it flies faster--you have less time to react. Paper is also subject to becoming limp when there is high humidity in the air.

That said, there is a magical alchemy of taking something so common as phone book paper and turning it into a mysterious flyer. On this page you can get started on my "origami hand glider" plans. And here are instructions for a classic John Collins design tumblewing.

Phil Rossoni has designed a paper walkalong glider. You need a board to fly it (not hands only) but you might find it easier to build than mine.
In fact, Phil's website is full of amazing walkalong glider projects. He calls it controllable slope soaring.

The History of Walkalong Gliding and Branches Developing Now
The history of walkalong gliding is fascinating, intertwined with the development of human powered flight
I've been fortunate enough to be able to meet and interview some of the people who invented walkalong gliding (Dr. Tyler MacCready) and who started cool branches. And I'm keeping track of new developments around the world (lower part of the page). The history is here! And here.

The Wind Rider Foam Glider
There's a commercial product of 3 gliders sold for $15 US and $5 postage that you can see here. They take a couple of weeks to ship from Hong Kong. There are good things and some less desirable things about this product. This design came from Dr. Tyler MacCready, who invented walkalong gliding.You can see Tyler flying it in this old Scientific American Frontiers clip. And you can see him talk about how he manufactured and sold the gliders in the second video here.

Tyler eventually sold the design to a toy company in Hong Kong and if must have changed hands again. I bought the package (3 gliders). They are beautiful, have great airfoils and they are much stronger. They are also much heavier than the indoor ones my students make. So there's a design trade-off. The heavier Wind Riders fly better outdoors. But they are much faster flying, perhaps not so good for beginners. Phil Rossoni has a good tutorial for reducing the weight a little.

I think it's possible that they are using a little heavier foam than when Tyler made them because I had to add front weight beyond the adjustment and I (old man) can barely keep up with them.


I'll add more things as I become aware of developments in walkalong flight. Let me know if you are doing something cool or become aware of something. Contact.

Back to the foam glider home page
Back to the sciencetoymaker home page