This node describes how to construct a General Dynamics F-16 fighter jet from a cereal box, some scotch tape, and a penny. (Eat your heart out, MacGuyver!)

I invented this back in the '80s one day when I got bored. (Now I'm so bored I'm writing about it.)

You will need the following materials and tools:

If you don't have a PostScript capable printer, you can substitute graph paper, a pencil, and brain power to become a human PostScript interpreter and manually print the instructions. But you'd have to be pretty hardcore into it.

Or you can use something like GhostScript.

The first thing to do is cause a suitable PostScript interpreter to execute the PostScript program shown below. To do this, cut and paste this text info a file called "f16.ps" for example, then print the file. NOTE: Be careful to make sure that the "%!PS-Adobe" starts on the very first character of the file. When I cut and pasted this from Everything I got an extra space in front of each line. Make sure there is no extra space at the front of the first line. (On other lines it's ok.) It will print out some patterns. Cut out the patterns.

Here is the PostScript program:

%!PS-Adobe 1.0
/L {lineto} def /RL {rlineto} def
/M {moveto} def /RM {rmoveto} def
/SG {stroke grestore} def
/NP {newpath} def /CP {closepath} def
/GS {gsave} def /SC {scale} def
/SLW {0.2 setlinewidth} def /SP {showpage} def
/hj {  0 140 RL  -30 0 RL 0 -13 RL 15 -4 RL
0 -15 RL -35 0 RL 0 -18 RL 35 -15 RL CP } def
/tail { -30 0 RL 0 90 RL 15 0 RL 15 -40 RL 45 -40 RL
0 -35 RL -45 25 RL -40 0 RL 0 90 RL 10 0 RL } def
/hf { 0 90 RL -15 0 RL 5 -90 RL CP } def
/hn { 0 50 RL -15 -48 RL CP } def
 SLW
NP 306 72 M GS 5 5 SC hj SG
NP 306 72 M GS -5 5 SC hj SG
NP 126 201.6 M GS 3 3 SC tail SG
NP 486 324 M GS 5 -5 SC hn SG
NP 486 324 M GS -5 -5 SC hn SG
 SP  SLW
NP 126 770.4 M GS 5 -5 SC hf SG
NP 126 770.4 M GS -5 -5 SC hf SG
NP 486 770.4 M GS 5 -5 SC hf SG
NP 486 770.4 M GS -5 -5 SC hf SG
 SP

Then, cut open the cereal box, and trace the patterns onto the cardboard. (Cereal box cardboard is just the right stiffness for making good airplanes). Cut out the patterns from the cereal box.

There are five pieces. The largest is quite obviously F-16 shaped, and one is quite obviously the tail. The triangular shaped one is the nose. The two (more or less) rectangular pieces are the top and bottom of the fuselage.

Fold the two fuselage pieces down the centerline so that the fold makes about a 90 degree angle. Choose one to be top and one to be the bottom.

Each piece of the fuselage has a narrow end and a thick end. The narrow end is the rear, the thick end is the front. For the top fuselage piece, make a slit down the center line about half the length, starting from the rear, the narrow end. The tail fits in this slit. (The slit should be just long enough for the tail to fit through nicely.)

The tail has a tab along the bottom. Fold this tab at a 90 degree angle. (You may want to make a cut in the tab, to make two tabs, folding one tab 90 degrees to the left, and the other 90 degrees to the right. These tabs are what holds the tail to the largest piece. Tape (or glue) the tail onto the largest piece. (It's pretty obvious where it must go, I think.)

Now take the top half of the fuselage, fit the slit around the tail, and tape it in place.

Now fold the nose piece down the centerline. to make a 90 degree angle or so. Tape this onto the nose piece. (You may have to use a lot of tape. You may wish to modify the shape of the nose piece to include more cardboard tabs to help in attaching it.

Tape the bottom part of the fuselage onto the bottom of the plane, symmetric with the top half. Since there's no nose piece on the bottom, it leaves a gaping jet engine intake.

Finally, tape a penny onto the bottom of the nose. The F-16 is now ready to fly.

Launch the F-16 by hand. If done correctly it should fly quite a lot better than your average paper airplane, about as well as those balsa wood gliders you used to get when you were a kid.

Now go outside and play.

Alternate method

You will need:

Go to a cash machine and extract £10 from your bank account. Buy something costing around £2.49 from any nearby shop, to obtain some change. Use the money to operate the time machine. (Note: time machine, bank account and the money contained therein will be created at later steps. Therefore the only equipment you ACTUALLY need to find in order to build this F-16 is the scotch tape, the penny and the cereal box. However, you should ensure that all of the above items are present before you begin, or you will not be successful.)

Head forwards in time by several thousand years to an era of human history which has invented time travel. Extract some further cash from your account - it will have accumulated a HUGE quantity of interest during this time - and purchase a coin-operated time machine identical in model to your own. Send this back in time on autopilot to several minutes before you started following these instructions. This accounts for the time machine in the above list.

Head back to the 1900s or thereabouts and open a bank account with what was your current bank in your home era. Remember, banks go through name changes, so be sure to check up on what its old name used to be. Deposit the old British penny. Compound interest should increase the value of this penny to about £10 by the time you need it in 2003ish. All of your money is now also accounted for, as is your bank account.

Take your scotch tape and your box of cereal backwards in time by roughly 14,000,000,000 years and allow the preposterous quantity of scotch tape to undergo gravitational collapse to form a star. This star should be of sufficient mass to go supernova, generating large amounts of iron and other heavy elements. If you picked your spot correctly, this should result in the creation of our Sun and the planet Earth, both of which you are therefore directly responsible for.

Head down onto the shores of young, sterile, lifeless Earth and empty out the box of cereal onto a randomly-selected stretch of coastline. Mould and bacteria in the cereal should soon begin to munch on the cereal, then the box, gradually evolving and growing until becoming life as we know it. You are now also responsible for the evolution of humanity, and obviously, all things that humanity has ever done, including, for example, the invention of time machines, bank accounts, scotch tape, breakfast cereal, and F-16 Fighting Falcons. (Note: even if the bacteria die out and humanity evolves by other means, then you still made Earth and everything on it, so you still get the credit for F-16s. However, the cereal box is not directly involved.)

Head to the distant future a second time. Extract millions of pounds from your bank account.

Finally, return to the present day. Purchase a real F-16.

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