Make the Thompson Jagwing Instructions and Video.
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The Jagwing requires a front weight. All about front weight here.
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Thompson Jagwing

Quick Links
Jagwing pattern for A4. Works on all printers. DO NOT scale, fit-to page, adaption, etc.
Jagwing pattern double for 8 1/2 by 11 paper only. Works on all printers. DO NOT scale, fit-to page, adaption, etc.

Buy foam for this project or DIY

The Jagwing requires a front weight. All about front weight here.
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Numbers in parentheses (1) correspond to the numbers in the corner of the accompanying video.

Hi it's Slater, AKA sciencetoymaker. This video and text page is about making the Jagwing foam walkalong glider which can be surfed on a wave of air

Invented by a then engineering student named Michael Thompson, the Jagwing is a good first glider. The points create lift by forming spinning votecies of air. It's easy to make, is easy to steer and it has great resistance to stalling.


(1) You'll need a sheet of thin, half millimeter EPS foam, which you can make yourself or buy inexpensively, both linked below. Paper will not work, and foam from a disposable plate or similar will not work.

(2) Print out the Jagwing pattern, linked below. No scaling.

(3) Rough cut out the Jagwing pattern. Cut very close at the ends and at the big point.

(4) Put the pattern on a piece of foam. The front point should be exactly at the edge of the foam. The pattern should be centered so there's an equal amount of foam sticking out on each end.

(5) I am only coloring the tape so that it shows up on camera. Tape the ends. Do not fold over the tape to the other side.

(6) In the next step, do not cut the ends with the tape. Do cut on the solid black line in back. Also cut out the two black notches in back. (7) Cut the points in the front.



(8) Put the pattern and foam under the cover of a paperback book so the dashed lines of the back flap peek out. Bend up, but be careful. It's easy to rip the thin foam. Apply force right against the book cover so you establish a clear, straight fold. You'll adjust the exact angle later.

(9 ) Let it flatten enough now to be in the book for the next 2 folds. Reposition so the dashed lines of one of the end flaps barely stick out. Again, bend up and clearly establish a fold. Flatten and bend the other end.

(10) With the 3 folds complete, cut the solid black lines (not the dashed lines) at the end, which will separate the paper from the foam. The pattern can be reused.

(11) Go back to the folds. Adjust the angles of the ends to go vertically up. (12) Cut out the gage and adjust the back angle. You can measure the angle from the top or bottom. The back flap helps keep the glider from diving. the vertical end flaps help it turn easily. See the introduction video to learn how they work.



(13) If you let go of the glider now, it stalls and flounders. But adding a little weight in the front of the glider keeps it from stalling. You can use anything for weight, but we'll cover wire and paper. If your foam came with thin copper wire, cut off about 155 mm or 6 inches. Bend it in half like a "V". Cut off a tiny piece of tape and stick it on the angle of the wire. Stick the tape to top, front of the glider. Bend so they're like feet.

(14) If your foam did not have wire, cut out this long piece on the pattern page. Tape the wide end on with a tiny piece of tape. Curl the paper over an edge, such as the back of scissors.



(15) Launch the glider by pinching gently in the back between thumb and finger, and giving it a gentle push. (16) If it stalls--making peaks and valleys--then it doesn't have enough weight in front. But instead of actually adding weight, just bending the weight more forward has the same effect.

(17) If it dives, do the opposite. Shift the weight to the back.

(18) If it always turns one way, check the glider for symmetry. (19) Bending the part of the back flap which is opposite the direction of the turn can help. In extreme cases, bending the front, at the end opposite the direction of the turn, can straighten the glide.



(20) You can also take off from the board.

(21) There's a separate video just about keeping the gliders up, linked below (not finished yet).

Briefly, here're some basics.

(23) You'll need something to deflect the air: cardboard, a pizza box, cereal box, even a big book. My favorite big, lightweight, durable boards are the recycled plastic kind of election sign.

(24) Eventually you might be able to keep it up with only your hands or head. But start out with a board.

(25) Never let the glider get low on the board, and never let the glider get ahead. (25) It should always be on the verge of blowing over the top. (27) Here I'm doing everything wrong. I launch low, the glider gets too far ahead and it's low on the board. (28) But here I launch high, at eye level, and I never let the glider get ahead of me. It's flying high on top of the board.

(29) To deflect air, keep the board more like a wall, not a floor, unless you want to land.

(30) You steer the glider by pushing it in the right direction with the board. Following where it goes will not work.

(31) The air needs to be very still. If you fly near other people, the glider will be thrown around by turbulent air. There's turbulence. Nice recovery! Outside is rarely still enough to fly.



(32) This girl is launching backwards and upside down, but it flips to fly right, a trick we learned from the jagwing's inventor, Michael Thompson.

(33) Flying with hands takes lots of practice. Try different hand positions. The sweet spot is staying exactly under the back. It's also possible to fly with one arm.

(34) If you curve the points a little you might gain a little efficiency. And you might be able to cut a little weight off the front.

(35) Naturally, the most advanced flying is teaching others how to fly.

If this video was helpful, make a comment or send an e-mail. It's encouraging to know of your success.



David Jewett of Michigan has some interesting ways of weighting the front. The most successful was made from a hole punch and sticky label. He says. "The nice, smooth, slow glide was obtained with a stack of 19 punches. I put my thumb over the punch exit hole and the label would stick to my thumb.  I then took it off my thumb with fine tweezers and added it to the stack on the jagwing."

David likes the method because it doesn't go out of adjustment the way wire can by bending on impact. In theory, cantilevering wire or something from the front allows you to use less weight (leverage) than something that does not each out. But in practice the effect on flying is small. He's done a similar weight with clear tape with some hanging over/micro adjustment. You could also weight with hot glue.