Folding paper into airplanes that glide has long been a staple of the human fascination with flight. Its origins appear to go way back to Ancient China, and Japan.
Leonardo Da Vinci made them, and so did the Wright brothers when they tested their early powered aircraft deigns.
But the science of aerogami has been taken to new heights since then. Former Cal quarterback, Joe Ayoob of Terra Linda, proved it on Sunday when he set a new world record for the longest paper airplane throw – an amazing 226 feet, 10 inches.
The man who meticulously folded the record setting craft is “Paper Airplane Guy,” John Collins, a Marin City resident and television producer for KRON-TV. He’s sort of a guru on paper gliders, having published two books on the subject.
Collins was confident in his design, but knew he didn’t have the arm strength to beat the record set in 2003 of 207 feet, 4 inches. So he enlisted some big guns. He told the IJ:
“I’ve been saying for years that I thought I could beat the world record. When I talked to Joe and found out he was a big paper airplane fan, we felt like we had a good combination.”
After several weekend test flights at Moffett Field, and a failed record attempt at a hangar in the Mojave Desert, Sunday’s event was held in the Air Force hangar that houses electronics mogul Randy Fry’s 747 jumbo jet near Sacramento.
“It was a proud moment,” said Ayoob, who started working with Collins on the project 18 months ago. “I used to make a paper airplane every day when I was a kid. I love it.”
Collins fashioned his plane with A4 Conquistador paper, a thick, ridgeless cut which is ideal for folding into flight-worthy crafts.
In order to qualify for an entry in the Guinness World Records, the attempt had to be videotaped, witnessed and measured by a surveyor with a laser. And with those requirements met on Sunday, Collins hopes to hear back from Guinness in a matter of months.
“It was perfect,” Ayoob said. “It just kept going and going.”