It’s not every day that a giant paper airplane is released high over the Arizona desert. In fact, it’s never been done. But that’s exactly what the Pima Air & Space Museum did on March 21, 2012.
A couple months ago, hundreds of kids came to the museum to show us what paper airplane flying was all about. And now, inspired by their enthusiasm, we built a 45-foot paper airplane (quite possibly the largest ever constructed) and flew it.
After a few test flights and a few false starts — including a delay that occurred when the plane buckled under its own weight — the team managed to get the aircraft aloft on Wednesday. A helicopter pulled the plane to a height of 1,524 m and then released it so it could cruise high above the desert.
For the project, which has the slogan “fold your plane, soar into history,” the museum employed a team of aviation experts, the youngest of whom is 12-year-old Arturo from Tuscon.
He came up with the winning paper plane design during a Fly-Off event in January attended by 200 young people and officiated by Guinness Book of World Record-holder Ken Blackburn. Arturo is an avid origami and paper figurine builder, and he learned to fold paper airplanes from watching videos on YouTube, according to his biography. And when he grows up? He wants to be a mechanical engineer, naturally.
Gravity always wins!