Eli5 : How do boomerang work?


I don’t understand how they work ? Is it a particular wood that makes it come back or anything can be a boomerang?

Thanks a lot !

In: Physics

You can buy plastic boomerangs, the material just needs to be light and fairly stiff.

The boomerang basically forms a wing but because it is spinning one side of it is creating more lift (spinning = one side opposite speed to the other, add that to your forward motion and it means one side is faster than the other). This causes it to turn. It “comes back” because it usually runs out of energy before it can make a 360 turn but a 180 turn is pretty easy

The material has nothing to do with it.
They can be made of plastic and work as well.

It’s a combination of the boomerang’s shape, throwing technique and maybe a little wind direction.

It basically boils down to aerodynamics.


The spin stabilizes the boomerang making it fly straight. It also makes it so that one wing is flying faster then the other, in fact the other might even be standing still. And due to how the wings are shaped this forward motion will generate a lot of lift. This means that the boomerang will fly straight and far. In general it does not return. However it is possible to throw it at a specific angle where it will turn to one side and if this is done correctly then the boomerang may end up near where it was thrown from. Experienced throwers might even be able to catch it. Boomerangs were initially made for hunting so they were not intended to come back. Instead the aim was to hit small fast creatures such as birds or rabbits knocking them unconscious. The boomerang would then have to be retrieved by the hunters when they were retrieving their pray.

When the boomerang is thrown with high spin, a boomerang flies in a curved rather than a straight line. When thrown correctly, a boomerang returns to its starting point. As the wing rotates and the boomerang moves through the air, the airflow over the wings creates lift on both “wings”.