This page is out of date! There's a new generation of designs that are easier to make here.

Air Surfing Foam Walkalong Gliders

Gallery of Feedback: people surfing foam gliders throughout the world!
Buchwald's Bionics: Walkalong gliders that mimic living creatures!

Until the foam
is available again, step into air surfing with paper tumblewings.
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NEW! Now it's much easier to cut your own thin foam for gliders. I will be selling thin foam soon, but it's not too difficult to cut your own from easy to find, recycled foam. Text explanation here.

  If you're not sure if air surfing is for you, try this simple paper walkalong glider first. Easy to make, but a challenge to launch and fly. If you can fly the paper Big Mouth Tumblewing, you are ready for the more efficient foam gliders. SchoolTube equivalent. The pattern is here.
 

COMING February 18th: NEW AIR SURFING

For years science toy maker and his students have been developing air surfing (AKA walkalong gliding) whereby we mysteriously levitate gliders. We found that very thin recycled foam works far better than paper. Slicing foam is somewhat difficult, so we built a robotic (CNC) hotwire cutter. Foam slices that had to be painstakingly cut out by hand are now plentiful. My students are forming a school manufacturing club to sell recycled foam at a price anyone can afford (25 cents a sheet in bulk). We will launch Monday, February 18th. And to go along with the foam we are finishing a series of videos to make building and flying the gliders easier than ever before.

It looks like magic the first time you see it! How does it levitate? Surfing gliders on waves of air is called "walkalong gliding". Although I've made instructions for paper walkalong gliders, I think they are too difficult to start with. EPS foam (the common white kind made up of little puffy beads) is unaffected by humidity, much lighter, therefore slower flying--perfect for beginners. It's also the best for advanced hands-only flying and aerial dog fighting.

The problem is getting very thin foam. Making gliders from foam plates is cool, but such gliders fly much too fast for walkalong gliding. I had been sending out kits to interested people for testing. Now I have stopped sending until I complete second generation (simpler) designs with better (from recycled seafood containers) foam. I hope to resume in June--thanks for your patience.

You don't have to wait, though. You can make and practice air-surfing with a Big Mouth Tumblewing, which only uses phone-book paper or newspaper for material. If you really want to make the foam gliders, Part 6 shows you how determined DIYers could cut their own scraps of foam from discarded packaging, where to get inexpensive ni-chrome hot-wire for cutting and first generation patterns. Also stay tuned for better hot wire cutters. I've been experimenting and learning a lot--what a fun time to be alive!
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Part 1 Introduction to Walkalong Gliding and Why Foam?
This video is an introduction and progress report about walkalong gliding and my interest in it. It answers the question of why I think foam is more suitable to start with than paper. If YouTube is blocked at your school, try this SchoolTube equivalent.
More information and transcript of narration.

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Part 2 Air Surfing Kit Overview and Build the Tumblewing
This video shows the foam gliders you will make with the kit: 7 gliders, 4 different kinds.The second part shows you how to build and fly the simple, auto-gyrating Big Mouth tumblewing. If YouTube is blocked at your school, try this SchoolTube equivalent
More information, troubleshooting and transcript of narration.

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Part 3 "Flying Wings" and Build the Jagwing
This video shows you how to build the Thompson Jagwing glider which uses a unique way to generate lift. It's quite straightforward to build and adjust, and it's very flight stable. If YouTube is blocked at your school, try this SchoolTube equivalent
More information, troubleshooting and transcript of narration.

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Part 4 Build the Baby Bug
The Baby Bug looks like a small, indoor hang glider, and it uses the same kind of airfoil lift as a hang glider. If YouTube is blocked at your school, try this SchoolTube equivalent More information, troubleshooting and transcript of narration.
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Part 5 Aerial Dog Fighting and Hand Flight
Once you've built and learned to fly your gliders with a board deflecting the air, a new world of options opens up to you. Careening through three dimensional space, aerial jousting ( "dog fighting" ) is really fun and great exercise, though you will need more floor space than a typical house has. There are also some tips for using only your hands to deflect the air wave to surf on (that really looks like magic)! If YouTube is blocked at your school, try this SchoolTube equivalent. More information, troubleshooting and transcript of narration.
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Part 6 Hot Wire Foam Cutting
So you want to cut your own foam, recycled from discarded packaging? It takes some practice but a simple hot wire cutter is not expensive and pretty easy to make. If YouTube is blocked at your school, try this SchoolTube equivalent. More information, troubleshooting and transcript of narration.
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Part 7 Build the Mama Bug
Amazingly, gliders actually become more efficient as they get bigger. So this video shows you how to use the last two big pieces of foam to make a giant Mama Bug glider that you can still fly with only your hands. If YouTube is blocked at your school, try this SchoolTube equivalent. More information, troubleshooting and transcript of narration.
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Part 8 More Walkalong Gliding
So you have built and flown the gliders in this kit and you still want more. There is indeed a lot more! Check it out!


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