Paper airplanes are fun, let’s be honest. Who didn’t build their own creation as a little kid or compete with their brothers and sisters to see which one flew the furthest? And surprisingly, or maybe not, there’s been a resurgence of interest in paper airplanes lately and a new site, Paper Plane Mafia, pays homage to the craft that so many have enjoyed. The site says that they chose the name because they wanted to have a play on words, because the hobby, to them, is serious fun… I kind of like it.
For example, did you know that last year a 880 pound paper airplane was dropped from over 3,000 feet in what may be the largest paper airplane ever to fly? And, that it was designed by a 12-year-old? I didn’t either, but after coming across this website about “paper airplanes” I learned a whole lot more. Another example of the types of things you’ll find are the flight dynamics of paper plane flight… specifically the four forces of flight that affect them and how you can apply that knowledge the next time you make one.
Speaking of making one, the site also boasts some really cool videos and picture instructions, and I really appreciate that they make it easy so that even children can follow along, but yet fun enough that everyone enjoys it. As I mentioned earlier, there’s a new-found interest in paper planes and there’s even contests around the world where entrants attempt to break world records in flight (air) time, distance, and aerobatics (loops and such). Paper Plane Mafia has alluded to the fact that they may be sponsoring some upcoming contests so it’ll be interesting to see what they put together.
A Design Tool
One of the latest additions to the site is a cool new Paper Airplane Design tool which makes is super simple for anyone to be the architect of their own design and creation. I’ve played around with it some and it really does help visualize how different folds and styles might look, and perhaps fly. It’s for sure something every kid would love to play with, so if you’re not interested in paper airplanes yourself but have children, be sure to show it to them.
Another thing that struck me about the Paper Plane Mafia site is that they seem genuinely interested in helping others learn about the craft, and there are pages like the History of Paper Airplanes and one on How They Fly. While I’ve built these things since I was little, I truly never thought about where and how it all started. As it turns out, people have been making them for over 100 years, and it seems to have spun out of man’s pursuit of actual flight.
Back in the 1800′s there weren’t a lot of advanced means by which engineers could create mock-ups or drafts of their designs like they do today on computers or with plastic or clay moldings. Back then developers used paper to create a model of their design, and the rest is of course, history. Here’s an image of the paper airplane that Butler and Edwards (Britain) patented in 1867 as the concept for their proposed aircraft. It really resembles paper airplanes of today, don’t you think?
I’m glad to have found this site and I admit that I’m looking forward to making some paper airplanes now. And I’m sure my own kids are going to love it! Take a look and let me know what you think.