A duo of third-generation Boeing engineers aimed a little lower than a 757, and designed the world’s best paper airplane.
As one would expect from aerospace engineers, the pair of young men knew what they were doing, and it took 20 minutes to fold the airplane which eventually flew 290 feet—a Guinness World Record.
Boeing engineers Dillon Ruble and Garrett Jensen grew up the sons of Boeing engineers and loved folding paper airplanes at company picnics.
In Middle school, they attended paper airplane contests hosted by the company.
Far from your classic paper airplane design, they used their knowledge of aeronautics and origami to design something with the same characteristics as a supersonic aircraft.
“We tried to mimic the design of various hypersonic vehicles, which travel at speeds over Mach 5 (five times the speed of sound). So, we decided to call our plane Mach 5,” Ruble told Boeing news.
When the day to try for the record came, the pair were carefully watched by witnesses. They selected the A4, or European-size paper, with the maximum weight of 100 grams per square meter, reasoning that the heavier the airplane, the farther one could throw it.
“We found the optimal angle is about 40 degrees off the ground. Once you’re aiming that high, you throw as hard as possible. That gives us our best distance,” Jensen said. “It took simulations to figure that out. I didn’t think we could get useful data from a simulation on a paper airplane. Turns out, we could.”
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Stepping up, Ruble threw the plane as hard as he could. It caught a bit of wind in its wings and sailed for about 6 seconds before striking the ground. They broke the previous world record of 252 feet by 38 feet, but told CNN that they had no intention of touching the record for total air time.
“The design objectives for an air-time record would be vastly different from the low-drag version we built for the longest-distance record,” Ruble said via email. “Increasing the wingspan and decreasing the aspect ratio would be the first steps in producing this type of plane.”
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