How to Minimize The Weight Of An Elastic Launched Glider

Why is weight important

Weight is a key factor any catapult or elastic launched glider competition. In fact, many competitions restrict the minimum mass that the glider can weigh to challenge competitors to work around the burden because of its importance. 

To learn more about why weight is important, check out our other post “3 Secrets to Win Elastic Launched Glider”:

how to reduce weight


For many flyers, the wing of their gliders contain the most excess weight. Many flyers use wings that are solely made with balsa wood, which is not necessary a bad choice but can easily result in excess weight if the wood selected to build the glider is not carefully weighed and sanded.

For new flyers, I would recommend that you incorporate thin foam sheets into your wing design which can significantly decrease the weight of your gilder if used correctly. Additionally, many new flyers don’t thoroughly sand an airfoil shape into their wings, resulting in excess weight. Therefore, sanding the wings of your plane more thoroughly can decrease your glider’s weight.


Many new flyer also use a beefy stick of balsa wood to construct their glider’s fuselage. For most gliders, a thin stick of balsa wood (1/8″ x 1/8″ cross section) is more than enough to create a study glider. 

However, for the more advanced flyer, thin carbon fiber rods (0.050″ diameter) are smart investment to build even lighter gliders.


In order to achieve the lightest possible glider, the smart flyer should attempt to reduce the thickness of the horizontal and vertical stabilizers.

For most gliders, many new flyers will use a 1/32″ thick piece of balsa wood to create the vertical and horizontal stabilizers. To reduce weight is is recommended to sand the vertical stabilizer to 1/64″ thick and only lightly taper the horizontal stabilizer to reduce the most excess weight with the least sacrifices to structural integrity.

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