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Musing

A Mesmerizing Airplane

Watching this fascinating simple airplane I found on Reddit reminded me about an evening back when I was in Boy Scouts. The scout masters had set up for the patrols in our troop to compete in a paper airplane contest.

I was a member of the senior patrol, called “JOFA Patrol” for some joke I can’t remember. We were also notorious for working smarter, not harder, which often led to us breaking rules. Well, we immediately identified that the rules were insufficient for this competition. That is to say, there were none.

So, rather than make the best airplane we could. Instead we emptied our pockets of coins. Then we took the provided piece of paper and crumpled it up into a ball around the coins. The coins gave added heft to ensure the ball flew far. Rather than have to rely on a plane flying gracefully after a skilled toss, we just had the baseball player in the patrol chuck our “airplane” as far as he could.

As it turns out, this was longer than the entire length of the event hall. Our “airplane” burst against the wall, scattering its payload of coins.

The scout leaders disqualified us for cheating.


If you do try to create the original paper airplane, be aware of this advice from Reddit user jchasse, in response to someone saying their versions of this plane always crashed terribly:

The trick is in “throwing” it.
Hard to tell from the short vid.

Pointer finger sits on top of the paper crease in the middle bottom of the circle with thumb and middle finger below the paper on earthier side. (Take those thee fingers and point them in front of you. That triangle shape is what you are going for) You don’t grasp the paper (like a traditional paper airplane) so much as let it rest between the fingers like a launching rail.

Now HERE’S THE TRICK…

DON’T toss/throw this like you think of a normal paper airplane!
This is all about a gentle push/release.

GENTLE PUSH & RELEASE.

Let the air currents do all the work NOT the snap of your arm or wrist.

Once you have that down you can start to throw it by facing it vertical up in the air and adding a bit more of a wrist snap before releasing it horizontally, but again this is not about power more about grace.

Do this from the nose bleed seats in a stadium and you can reach all the way to the courts.

As far as the flappy wings never tried that before, curious if they add lift in some manner.

What do you think?