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Serious paper planes? It's a way to introduce children to flight and aerodynamics.

Soaring, darting planes fill the air at the end of a class project as students get a first-hand lesson about flight. These aren't crude folded-paper throwaways. They have the look of a real airplane, with a fuselage, wing, and rear horizontal and vertical stabilizers.

This project is one of four low-cost educational programs developed by Seattle's Museum of Flight. (The others use boomerangs, kites, and a flying ring called the Aerobie as teaching aids.) The museum makes the programs available to schools, libraries, museums, civic groups, or interested individuals.

Each of the projects demonstrates some principle of flight and aerodynamics, and also gives youngsters the hands-on experience of making a flying device. A manual guides the teacher or leader in discussion and construction steps.

It takes about an hour to build each plane, which has a balsa wood fuselage and paper wing and stabilizers. Students learn they must be both an engineer to assemble the parts and a pilot to tune the plane for top flying performance.

The fun comes with the launching. Gentle indoor test flights help indicate problems. Once these are debugged, the students head outdoors, where they can use rubber bands to rocket the planes aloft. Contests for distance or flying time add to the excitement.

Groups or individuals can find out more about each program by writing to The Museum of Flight, Education Department, 9404 E. Marginal Way South, Seattle 98108.

Initial cost is $7 for each educational packet sent to a teacher or group. Additional kits for students cost $1 for the Whitewing (pictured), $2 for the kite, $3.50 for the boomerang, and $4.50 for the astonishing Aerobie (it's thrown like a Frisbee but goes four times farther).
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Date:Apr 1, 1985
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