Flying Squirrel


Sophia Thurau-Gray and Nuradin Bhatti

Our idea was to create a flying squirrel. Our inspiration came from thinking how some animals, humans included are not physically designed to create their own flight but still find a way to fly. This brought us to gliding. We found the gliding squirrel, which without needing any type of wings can glide between trees. We liked the idea of taking materials you would not expect to fly like wood glue and cloth and making something that can fly without anything to continue its motion.

Our design problem was to create something that could fly but put a new spin on the ideas of traditional flight. We decided to solve this based on the concept that people are not meant to fly but they still do, just like our wooden figure.

This project was very important for us because we both learned a lot about the aerodynamic properties of gliding. We also learned how to design ased on the properties of our material to maximize both the lift provided as well as the lightness.


Nuradin Bhatti and Sophia Thurau-Gray
1 / 16

We were prompted with designing a new take on the concept of traditional flight. We looked to how flying in occurs in nature. Besides by flying with wings we found that some animals glide through the air: Flying squirrels. We decided to make a gliding object in the shape of a squirrel.

We began with a simple design of a bead (with ears), four legs and a body this was based off our original sketches and we cut it out of cardboard and used felt to cover the wings. Although we knew a lot had to be changed in the material and balance of our design our first prototype started us in the right direction. We saw that even with not ideal materials it had the potential to glide very well. We  decided that this would be our design and except for some minor changes and different size, it was.

Our second iteration was made out of thin wood and cotton cloth. In this prototype we made the leap to the materials we planed to use for our final. It was important to begin using our final materials early on but it was the balance brought through trial and error that would make or flying squirrel fly more than anything else.

For our following iterations we improved the stability of our Squirrel. We began by adding ribs to the bottom of the squirrel for the design to connect back to the act that our design was based on areal squirrel skeleton as well as to help launch the squirrel. We also created a larger wingspan to provide even more lift. We also adding a back fin for stability that we later hollowed out to make it lighter and covered with fabric.

In the end the simplicity and uncomplicated design of the gliding squirrel is what made it fly so well.