Museum of Science and Industry

Make and Fly a Helicopter

Step 1 of 7:

Here's the Materials You'll Need:

Helicopter template (click here to download and print)
Paper clips (optional)

Step 2 of 7:

Use the helicopter template to cut out your flyer. Cut ONLY on the solid lines.

Step 3 of 7:

Fold flaps A and B toward each other so they overlap.

Step 4 of 7:

Fold flap C up. Hold your helicopter up high and drop it. What happens?

Step 5 of 7:

Fold flaps D and E in opposite directions to form the blades. Fold D towards you and flap E away from you. Hold your helicopter up high and drop it again. What happens?

Step 6 of 7:

By experimenting with the weight or shape of your helicopter, you can change how it flies.  Cut out more helicopters to compare with your first helicopter. What happens when you:

Step 7 of 7:

Air has mass and takes up space. When you drop your helicopter, it has to push the air around it out of its way in order to move.

As the helicopter falls, the pressure of the air pushes the blades up into a slanted position. In this position, the air under one blade is pushing one way and the air under the other blade is pushing the opposite way. These two forces of air push the blades around and make it spin. The faster the blades spin, the less the air can get by, and the slower the helicopter falls.

By experimenting with the weight, shape, and position of the blades, you change how fast and how much air is pushed out of the way. In other words, you’re changing how the air resistance is hitting your helicopter. This affects how it moves.

© 2016 Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago – All rights reserved.
Visit the Museum of Science and Industry online!