After spending a couple months researching and testing out different paper airplane designs, learning about aerodynamic forces, and conducting fun activities at home with my boys, I wanted to take things to the next level. It’s time to get serious about paper airplanes and getting involved in a paper airplane competition!
Unfortunately, when I researched “paper airplane contests” on Google, I didn’t find any events I could join right away. I’m a little sad but I did learn many interesting facts about contest rules and the world’s largest paper airplane championship I hope to one day take part in. What’s more important is that all the research sparked a light bulb in my head. I’ve come up with a very, very interesting idea.
RED BULL PAPER WINGS
During my research, I found a bunch of cool videos for the Red Bull Paper Wings World Championships. This is the biggest paper airplane competition of all time held every three years. Contestants or “pilots” from all over the world gather in Austria for a two day, olympic style stand-off with gold, silver, and bronze metals. There are three areas of competition, longest distance, longest airtime, and acrobatics.
The last Red Bull Paper Wings was held in 2019, so the next competition won’t be until 2022. During this past event, Jake Hardy from the USA won the distance battle with a 56.61 meter throw. While this is an incredible feat, the current Guinness World distance record by Joe Ayoob is 69.14 meters (airplane crafted by John Collins, the paper airplane guy). Cameron Clark from Australia took the longest airtime gold title with 13.33 seconds. Again, while this is an amazing time aloft for a paper airplane, the current Guinness World airtime record held by Takuo Toda is a whopping 29.2 seconds! Lastly, the acrobatic gold went to Kateryna Ahafonova, watch her acrobatic paper airplane routine on Youtube.
Although there are still 2 more years before the next event, I will be working hard to prepare and come up with something extraordinary to defeat the current champions. Who knows, maybe I will be the next double gold winner for both distance and airtime in 2022.
NATIONAL PAPER AIRPLANE DAY
Another interesting find is that May 26 is National Paper Airplane Day in the USA. While it is not a national holiday, many schools, museums, and aviation centers will host paper airplane contests on this day.
I’ll definitely keep my eyes open for any paper airplane contests nearby. This will be great practice for preparing for the Red Bull Paper Wings qualifying rounds. I can’t wait!
HOSTING PAPER AIRPLANE CONTESTS
Although I did not find any paper airplane contests to take part in right now, I did find lots of information on hosting paper airplane contests. It’s a great activity that is fun and educational at the same time. Folding a paper airplane is easy, however, making one that can win will take patience, paper folding skills, and good knowledge of aerodynamics. For me, the fun part is applying my knowledge, tinkering with different paper airplane designs, and making improvements.
One of the best websites with really good advice for hosting a paper airplane contest is from NASA. On this page, you can also download a free applet called FoilSim that shows you how an aircraft’s wings generate lift. There are different factors you can play around with and change such as area, thickness, and speed to see how it affects flight. It’s a great tool to learn different ways to improve a paper airplane!
PAPER AIRPLANE WORLD
While this doesn’t have to do with contests, another interesting find during my research is an amazing web application called Paper Airplane World. The website has 3D renderings of paper airplanes flying around the globe on your desktop. When you visit with a smart phone, you can interact with it by folding a paper airplane and then launching it into the internet. Afterwards, a net catcher shows up and you can catch the many paper airplanes flying around. The paper airplane you catch unfolds revealing countries it has visited. Ridiculously cool right?
MY PAPER AIRPLANE CONTEST IDEA
All the research I did today lead me to a single, ingenious idea – why not start my own paper airplane contest? I’m not talking about setting up a contest for my boys at home, I’ve already done that. My idea is to start a viral online paper airplane contest where anyone, anywhere can take part in by simply submitting a video.
Obviously, I’ll need to think more about the rules of the contest but the idea is ingenious! By setting this up, a community of people around the world can submit ideas for defeating the current world records. At the same time, if this idea goes viral, more people will become interested in the art of paper folding and aeronautics.