DIY – Build a Glider from a Fastfood Container

I was eating a few pancakes and sausage from my local global synthofood mega corp and realized that I might be able to get more fun out of the packaging that the food. Has this happened to you? I bet it has. Any way, at first I was thinking that the Styrofoam packaging would make an excellent airplane. Its lightweight, sturdy, easy to work yet durable, and best of all absolutely free. Ok, I have to buy the food that comes in it first but there is nothing stopping you, except sanity, from dumpster diving to find a few. After a quick search of the ‘Net I found a few plans for some planes that used the same idea but it involved attaching things together with glue and to be perfectly honest it was early and I didn’t want to run the risk of gluing my fingers together with white glue (it could happen!). Plus adjoined parts are a failure point waiting to happen. I wanted  unibody construction in my aeroplane! I first considered the plate that the food was served on, the bottom, but it was all full of knife marks and I knew that would jeopardise the structural integrity of my craft. The top, however, was in pristine condition. The area between the contents markers (little nubs that would be pushed down to indicate the type of culinary joy contained within) was big enough to use as a fuselage and wings. The natural shape of the container lends itself to a nice dihedral wing configuration. As my father taught me this added stability is a must for any glider!

So, your going to need a few things before we start:

  • Tape – Clear tape is the best but I suppose you can use Gaffers if you want
  • Hobby knife – You need a VERY sharp blade and I’ll explane why
  • Top of your breakfast tray – This should be obvious
  • Paper clips – Nose weight
  • Pen – To make the foam
  • Paper – to make the template
  • Markers – Used to make your plane yours

Styrofoam glider projectStyrofoam glider project

First thing to do is make a template that is roughly plane shaped. I have one here if you want to use it but I encourage you to make your own.

Styrofoam glider project

Clean the Styrofoam out, it’s hard to work with sticky plastic.

Styrofoam glider projectStyrofoam glider project

Tape the template on the container and trace the outline with a pen. Once this is done use your hobby knife to cut along the lines. The containers have a food safe plastic coating that will tear and bunch up if you don’t have a darn sharp blade.

Styrofoam glider project

Give the tail a slight ‘V’ bend. And add some paper clips to the nose for balance and weight.


Add decorations to your craft. Air group numbers, slogans, ads for shoes, etc…

Styrofoam glider projectStyrofoam glider project

Test your creation and have some fun. This is great indoors and out. My daughter Katrina has been playing with this plane all day.

Styrofoam glider project

I did discover that if you keep the tail a bit wider it has more stability and also if you move the nose weight around you can get a better glide out of the plane. Also, adding flaps to the trailing edge of the wings help a lot.

Now if I could just find something to do with the eggs that came with the breakfast…

Like building stuff on your own? Learn about building all sorts of useful things, like how to build a wind generator; cool things, like how to build a lightsaber; fun things, like how to build a paintpall gun! Learn more today!

11 thoughts on “DIY – Build a Glider from a Fastfood Container”

  1. Nice Article , the cross-referencing to the wiki pages are real useful to the readers
    [Thank you. I like to do that, I think it adds more value to the posts. -John]

  2. McDonalds will probably start charging more for thier breakfast trays now…thanks.
    No, really, cool idea, maybe you could sell it to McD’s and have them print all kinds of templates on the inside of thier boxes…you know, for kids!
    justa thought.

  3. Great tip there!
    I am an Officer with the UK Air Cadets and I’m going to test this one out at my Squadron. Thanks!

  4. Great Page! I am going to send it out in my newsletter. It will be listed in The Online Paper Airplane Museum as well.
    Have fun Flying!
    Uncle Dean 🙂
    [Very cool, thanks! I’m going to blog the museum, it’s a great resource! -John]

  5. this was cool site it helped me with my tech ed project so (L)g2g bye bye
    [Nifty! Send me photos of your project – John]

  6. I was looking for ideas to build a glider for my science class, and i found it thanks to you.(Dont worry i’ll give you credit for your awesome glider.)

  7. Annie Klosterman: Cool, glad to hear that I was able to help. If you have a web page for your science class tell me about it, I’d like to see your results.

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