The Effects of Rubber Band Width, Tail Fin Angle, and Number of Winds on the Flight Time of a Rubber Band Powered Model Airplane

This experiment was designed to test the effects of several factors on the flight time of a rubber band powered rubber airplane. These factors included the width of the rubber band, tail fin angle, and number of times the rubber band was wound. Fifty five randomized trials were performed by winding one of three of rubber bands of varying widths (.237cm, .258cm, .278cm) to 80%, 85% or 90% of the band's maximum capacity. Then the tail fin was adjusted to 5, 10, or 15 degrees. The plane's flight was timed with a stopwatch from release to the instant the plane hit the ground. A Three Factor Design of Experiment found the effects of increasing rubber band width from .237 cm to .278 cm (a decrease in flight time by an average of 3 seconds), increasing tail fin angle from 5 degrees to 15 degrees (a decrease of 1.7 seconds) and increasing number of winds from 80% to 90% of its maximum capacity (an increase of 2.1 seconds). Although the DOE found none of the factors to be significant, the fact that many trials were performed with results that support prior research indicates that these effects probably are significant.

Research Done By:

Stephanie Howells
Cousino High School

Ryan Oswald
Sterling Heights High School