Boeing Engineers Designed the World’s Best Paper Airplane

The world-record paper airplane.
When you think Boeing, you think of giant airliners. You don’t think of paper airplanes. But a pair of Boeing engineers have shattered the world record by flying their paper airplane nearly the length of a football field. (Image: via Dominic Alberico)

Ever wondered how far the perfect paper airplane could go? Imagine if Boeing engineers came together to design one This happened when a duo of third-generation engineers created the world’s best paper airplane.

Imagine what would happen when two aerospace engineers decided to work together to design the best paper airplane. To put it correctly, not just any engineers, but two Boeing engineers worked together to create this version. Their collaboration resulted in their beating a Guinness World Record for the farthest flown for a paper airplane.

Who were the engineers?

Boeing engineers Dillon Ruble and Garrett Jensen, along with the support of Nathan Erickson, made history on December 2, 2022, in Crown Point, Indiana, for the farthest flight by a paper aircraft.

Since they were young, they habitually went on company picnics and folding paper airplanes. The two had long been attending paper airplane contests hosted by Boeing since they were in Middle school.

Dillon Ruble (from left) and Nathan Erickson fold world record paper airplanes with witnesses overseeing.
Dillon Ruble (from left) and Nathan Erickson fold world record paper airplanes with witnesses overseeing. (Image: via Dominic Alberico)

How they achieved the new record-breaking feat

To achieve the feat, they had to use their knowledge of aeronautics and origami to adopt specific characteristics found on a supersonic aircraft. Ruble said they had worked hard to mimic the design of different hypersonic vehicles. In addition, the two engineers had worked hard to achieve a paper airplane capable of traveling at speeds of over Mach 5.

The Mach 5 is capable of traveling five times the speed of sound. Because of this, the Boeing engineers also decided to name their paper airplane the Mach 5.

What paper was used for the airplane

To create the longest-traveling paper airplane in the world, the two engineers selected an A4-sized paper. It had a maximum weight of 100 grams per square meter.

The two also explained that the weight of the paper also had something to do with their accomplishment. They argued that the heavier the paper airplane, the farther it could be thrown. The two also found the optimal angle to reach the maximum distance. They noted that they had to throw it around 40 degrees off the ground.

Experimentations leading to the actual flight

Jensen revealed that although they weren’t sure that simulations could help them, they found out that their simulations on a paper plane were practical. First, they tested different degrees of paper airplane use and other sizes, materials, and folds. After that, they used data from the simulations to determine whether their theories and experimentations were correct. 

paper-airplane
Nathan Erickson (from left), Dillon Ruble, and Garrett Jensen made history on December 2, 2022, in Crown Point, Indiana, for the farthest flight by a paper aircraft. (Image: via Dominic Alberico)

How the paper airplane performed

Ruble tried to throw the paper airplane as hard as possible, and upon takeoff, it could catch some wind in its wings. This resulted in the paper plane sailing for around 6 seconds in total.

The paper airplane flew a whopping 290 feet, a new record that broke the previous one of just 252 feet by 38 feet. Despite this achievement, the duo said they had no initial plans to reach this record.

Conclusion

The dynamics of a paper airplane competition are both simple and highly complicated. Although the main goal is to fly a paper plane the farthest possible, this boils everything down to two factors: designing the aircraft and throwing it.

While the designing part takes much planning and science, the throwing part still involves an element of skill. You should remember many things when throwing a paper plane, including the thrust and the angle at which you throw it.

Although the Boeing engineers did have the upper hand when it came to designing the paper plane, they still had to practice and perfect the execution to ensure the paper plane flew as far as possible.

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