A Database of Paper Airplane Designs: Hours of Fun for Kids & Adults Alike

Though we can trace the his­to­ry of paper air­craft back 2000 years to the Chi­nese and their kites, and into the 19th cen­tu­ry with the French and their imag­i­nary air­ships, the ori­gin of the mod­ern paper air­plane is shroud­ed in mys­tery. A San Diego Read­er arti­cle placed the birth some­where in 1910. By 1915, most Amer­i­can kids were already tor­ment­ing teach­ers. And Jack Northrup used paper mod­els to work on aero­dy­nam­ics at Lock­heed in the 1930s, but even that doesn’t do much to explain how such a ubiq­ui­tous object has con­tin­ued to be so hum­ble and ordi­nary while inspir­ing a recent upsurge of inter­est.

The data­base at Fold’n’Fly shows how much vari­ety there is beyond the basic “dart” style, and each air­plane comes with step-by-step fold­ing instruc­tions, a print­able pat­tern page, and a help­ful video.

You can choose by dif­fi­cul­ty lev­el, whether or not you will need scis­sors, or sort by dis­tance, acro­bat­ics, time aloft, or pure­ly dec­o­ra­tive.

One of the rea­sons for the renewed inter­est in paper air­planes is the use of CAD (com­put­er aid­ed design) in con­struct­ing pro­to­types, and that in itself is a response to the chal­lenge set by var­i­ous Guin­ness world records.

The cur­rent dis­tance record is 226 feet, 10 inch­es, set in March 2012 by a for­mer col­lege quar­ter­back Joe Ayoob. The plane was designed by tele­vi­sion pro­duc­er John Collins, who used Ayoob’s throw­ing arm strength to break the pre­vi­ous record hold­er by near­ly 20 feet.

The longest time a paper air­plane has been in the air is cur­rent­ly 27.6 sec­onds, set in 1998 by Ken Black­burn at the Geor­gia Dome. He was break­ing his own record for the third time.

Last­ly, the record for largest paper air­plane is 40 ft 10 inch­es, designed by stu­dents from the Tech­nol­o­gy Uni­ver­si­ty of Delft in 1995.

So, now you know what you’re up against. If you think you can do bet­ter, dive into this web­site and get fold­ing.

via Metafil­ter

Relat­ed Con­tent:

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Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the artist inter­view-based FunkZone Pod­cast and is the pro­duc­er of KCR­W’s Curi­ous Coast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, read his oth­er arts writ­ing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

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