In honour of our First Annual Paper Airplane Competition held as part of YVR Take-Off Fridays on July 12, we decided to have a little fun with our Aircraft of the Month feature and focus on the flimsy flyers that were seen soaring through the terminal last week.
Even an inexperienced aviator will have likely flown one of these at some point in their lives, most probably from the back row of a classroom.
Paper airplanes have a deep and rich history that goes back to 500 BCE when paper first started being produced en masse. There is some discrepancy as to whether the Chinese or Japanese folded the first flying paper object, but from there the practice can be seen in different forms throughout history.
Aviation pioneers like DaVinci, Sir George Cayley and of course the Wright Brothers all either hypothesized the functionality of planes made of parchment or used paper models to test their theories of flight.
Operators: Bored students the world over, engineers testing flight theories and the hundreds of individuals that particpate in the paper airplane contests.
First Flight: 500 BCE
Cruise Speed: Depends on their aerodynamism of your aircraft, and how hard you throw it.
Height: 1.3 inches
Length: 8.1 inches
Wing Span: 8 inches
Passenger Capacity: Zero humans. Three to five insects.
Maximum Range: The longest flight by a paper airplane was thrown last year by a former professional quarterback and flew a distance of 210 feet, six inches. The plane was designed by Paper Airplane Guy John Collins. Watch a video of the record-setting flight.
Did You Know: One day they might launch a paper airplane from space! A prototype passed a durability test in a wind tunnel in March 2008, and Japan's space agency considered launching from the International Space Agency. The project was postponed after designers acknowledged it would be all but impossible to track the aircraft during the week-long journey to Earth, assuming any of them survived the searing descent. Hope remains that China or Russia will continue the program.
In February 2011, 200 planes were launched from a net underneath a weather balloon 23 miles above Germany. The planes were designed to maintain stable flight even in gusts up to 100 mph. The planes were equipped with memory chips from which data can be uploaded. The planes were found in other places in Europe, North America and even Australia.
Our regular focus on life-sized metal aircraft will return in next month's edition. Until then, follow this step-by-step instructions (also seen above) to perfect your own paper plane.