Paper airplanes are something every schoolboy knew how to fold. Well, these boys grow up but never leave their childhood hobby.
In March 2012, Pima Air & Space Museum launched a giant paper airplane (possibly the largest paper airplane ever made) across the Arizona Desert. The airplane was 45 feet in length and weighed 800 pounds.
The airplane, named "Arturo's Desert Eagle", was towed into the air by a helicopter. At 2703 feet, Arturo's Desert Eagle was released and it glided for a few seconds at close to 98 mph (see video). It then plunged to earth with a dramatic crash landing.
Arturo's Desert Eagle was not made of paper as we know it, rather it was made of Falconboard (a type of corregated cardboard). The airplane was built by Art Thompson and it was modeled after the paper airplane created by 12-year old Arturo Valdenegro. It is hoped that the project would encourage children to pursue careers in aviation and engineering. Photo from here.
Feb, 2012: A new Guinness World Record has been made for the longest distance traveled by a paper airplane! Joe Ayoob (former American football quarterback) and John Collins (paper airplane designer) managed to fly the paper airplane for a distance of 69.14 meters (226 feet, 10 inches).
John Collins has been folding, designing, and flying paper airplanes for over 40 years. He has been trying to beat the previous long-distance record for the last four years. Collins says that "it's the most technical plane I've ever made" and that "science is incredibly important". Read details here. Watch video, or watch interview.
The previous record set in Sept, 2003, was held by Stephen Kreiger who flew his paper airplane for a distance of 63.19 m (207 feet, 4 inches). Watch video.
In 2009, Takuo Toda, (engineer and chairman of Japan Origami Airplane Association) set a new Guinness World Record by having his paper airplane stay afloat for 27.9 seconds. The airplane was made from one sheet of paper with no cuts. See video here.
Previous world record for longest flight was held by Ken Blackburn in 1998: his paper airplane was afloat for 27.6 seconds. Only 0.3 seconds difference - that's close, very close!
It's not just fun and games. Japanese scientist hope to launch paper airplanes from the International Space Station. The chemically treated paper airplanes have been tested in a hypersonic wind tunnel and they have survived Mach 7 speeds and over 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Approximately 30 airplanes, each less than 3 inches long, will travel through space and enter into the Earth's atmosphere and probably land in the oceans. There is no tracking, guidance, or retrieval system. If the paper airplanes survive reentry, it is up to everyday people, like you, to retrieve & return the airplanes to the scientists. Instructions are printed on the airplanes in 10 different languages. See more photos of the airplanes here.
Not a rocket scientists? Not a problem. In Jan, 2011, paper airplane enthusiast, Joel Veitch, flew a weather balloon up for over 20 miles. When the weather balloon burst, 200 paper airplanes were launched from the edge of space. Each plane carried an uploaded message (provided by the general public) on a Samsung memory card.
Although "Project Space Planes" started in Germany, the paper planes have been found in countries as far as Australia, Russia, India, USA, Canada, and South Africa! If you happen to find one of these pink and purple paper planes, send Joel a message because he hopes to set the world record for the furthest paper airplane flight EVER! See details here or watch video.
Not so fast, Joel!
Just 2 months earlier, in Nov, 2010, British space enthusiasts (Steve Daniels, John Oates and Lester Haines) launched one paper airplane from space, also using a helium balloon. Their project, called "PARIS" (Paper Aircraft Released Into Space), launched one paper airplane and not a flotilla of airplanes. The one airplane (named Vulture) had a 3-foot wingspan and was made of paper straws. It was launched while over Spain, and was successfully retrieved just 100 miles from the release point. Read full story here. Watch video. Photo from here.
If you don't have access to the International Space Station or to a weather balloon, you can still make your airplane soar like never before: you can buy a Powerup kit which will convert your traditional paper airplane into a free flight electric airplane. Electric Conversion Kit available from amazon.com for $20.
Or.... you can get this DIY paper plane launcher which will propel your paper airplane through the air at 30 mph! Not bad for $10. Electric Paper Plane Launcher
also available from amazon.com.
News Flash! In 2014, Shai Goitein who created the original Powerup Kit has put into production his new & improved design: a smartphone-controlled electric paper-airplane. PowerUp 3.0 will change your "embarrassing paper airplane into a lean, mean, flying machine". It's not available on amazon yet, but you can read all about it at the kickStarter web site
Who would have ever thought that the paper airplane would go so far!
Amazon.com is not the first to give us motorized launchers. In 2008, Nova Jiang had an interactive art installation where participants fold their own paper airplane, launch it with a motorized launcher, and hope that the plane passes through the snipping scissors and land within the netting. "Hull Loss" and Jiang's other artwork allows the audience to become performers. See The Flytrap/Hull Loss by Nova Jiang.
So, let's say you're a frugal, homey type and you don't want to spend any money nor do you want to go to an art gallery. How could you make your paper airplane fly forever without even going outside? Here's the perfect solution for you: ViralVideoLab has figured out how to make a paper airplane fly indefinitely with a kitchen stove. The paper airplane goes around in circles - kind of dizzying, actually. See it here. If you prefer, you can have your airplane fly forever in vertical rotation with a hair dryer. See it here. Talk about DIY!
If you love paper airplanes then you will enjoy this art installation composed of many paper airplanes shooting out from a single source. In 2009, artist Dawn Ng, created "i fly like paper". See larger photos from her web site.
Look at all those paper airplanes! Wouldn't it be great if there was a machine that can fold the paper airplanes for you? Well there is. In 2008, Balkcom & Mason invented the first origami-folding robot. Watch video or read article. This machine could fold a paper airplane, a samurai helmet, and a paper cup.
But don't be intimidated by the above state-of-the-art technology. In 2013, Hknssn made a paper-folding machine using Lego bricks. It could fold and launch a paper airplane. See it here. Admittedly, the Lego machine is more of a mechanical feat whereas the robot is a computational feat.
Here's another paper airplane folding machine. This one is a little more high tech than the lego one, but it's not as clunky as the one by Balkcom & Mason. This machine is more like a photocopier: can get one for the office?
So, why is it that a 5-year old can fold a decent paper airplane but it takes a big, complicated machine to do the same task? The answer lies in dexterity, sensitivity, and judgment. Humans can manipulate soft and flexible objects and decide where to make folds on the fly (excuse the pun). Machines can't see nor feel and they can't cope with non-rigid materials. Paper and fabrics are too floppy and behave in an unpredictable manner.
Paper Airplane Diagrams
Paper airplanes are a classic example of origami in action. They are easy to fold, fun to fly and people can’t resist launching them. Did you know that in the USA, there is a day devoted to paper airplanes? June 21 is the unofficial National Paper Airplane day, a day where friends get together and fly paper airplanes. But you don't have to wait for June 21 to fold a piece of paper - learn to fold a paper airplane today!
Don't forget, you can also buy a page-a-day calendar which features a new paper airplane design everyday!
These paper airplanes are freely available on the internet. If you have a model that you would like to share, or if you see your model here and would like it removed, please Contact Us. Diagrams are intended for personal use. Copyright of the models lie with the origami creators and designers. Please contact the designer and/or creator directly for non-private usage of a model and/or artwork.