A unique way to make a model airplane is with empty soda pop cans. What is really great about this type of airplane, is that you can choose from so many different aluminum cans to get the colors and prints you desire.  From soda to beer cans, the choices are many. 

pop can airplane

Building a pop can airplane can be a fun and rewarding project. Here's a guide to help you get started:

Pop Can Airplane Instructions:

Step One:  Materials you will need:

  1. 4 empty aluminum soda cans
  2. Sharp scissors or utility knife
  3. Sandpaper
  4. A tube of all-purpose glue (such as epoxy or hot glue)
  5. Small wooden dowels or toothpicks
  6. Optional: foam or balsa wood for reinforcement
  7. A pair of thin gloves

Note: Exercise caution when handling sharp objects and be mindful of your safety while working with tools.

Step Two:  Rinse and dry the soda cans thoroughly to remove any residue and let them dry thoroughly.

Step Three:  While wearing the gloves, take the scissors and poke a hole in the first can approximately a 1/2 inch from the top. Now insert the scissors into the hole and cut the top of the can off. (Take care not to crush the thin aluminum can).

After you have cut the top of the can off, you can throw it away. Cut the bottom 2 1/2 inches off the bottom of another can; once cut save this piece for later.  Now you will carefully cut the top and the bottom off of another can. Cut this can in half and unroll and flatten down on a flat surface.

With the use of a fine-tipped marker draw the airplane wings on the inside piece of flatten down metal. Be sure the wings you draw are the same size and the same shape by cutting out and copying the first wing you drew. Now draw or trace the outline of the airplane's propeller, which should be approximately 3 inches in length. Carefully cut the propeller out.

Step Four:   Using your sharp scissors or a hobby knife, cut 2 slits on each side of the soda can that you cut the top off of. Cut a horizontal slit across the bottom of the can for the tail.

Now you will be using the cut off bottom that you laid to the side. Use a drill or hammer and small chisel to make a hole in the center of the cut off bottom. Also you will need to make a hole in the center of the propeller that you cut out. Attach the propeller onto the cut out bottom with a small screw and nut. Be sure to allow for a little space so that the propeller is able to turn. Now glue the bottom with the attached propeller onto the can that has no top.

Step Five:  With the fine-tipped marker, draw an airplane tail on the leftover scrap metal and cut it out. Apply glue to the tail and slip it in the horizontal slit you made at the bottom of the can. Slide the wings of the plane into place, one on each side of the plane and secure them with all-purpose glue.

Step Six:  Purchase an inexpensive landing gear for a model airplane and make two holes at the bottom/front of the plane and insert the gear wires. Use to dabs of glue to secure the landing gear onto the aluminum airplane. 

Remember, these are general guidelines, and you can modify the design and construction techniques to suit your preferences. It's always a good idea to experiment, test, and refine your design to achieve the best performance. Enjoy building and flying your pop can airplane!