Earlier this morning Airbus in Mobile along with agencies across the world attempted to break a Guinness World Record for the amount of paper airplanes to fly at one time. It’s being called the Pink Paper Plane Challenge. This was an effort to raise awareness for women in the aviation field and help promote gender equality. Right now, a majority of people in the field of aviation are men.
So about the event…
All paper airplanes must be built from the official format and must be folded in approved manner. Also, nobody was allowed to throw more than one paper airplane.
At 17:00 UTC or 11 am central time, participants threw their pink paper airplanes. The key was to make sure participants threw their paper airplanes within five seconds of 11 am simultaneously.
All agencies including Airbus will count the planes thrown and will send the report to the Institute for Women of Aviation Worldwide so that they may send the final numbers to the Guinness Book of World Records.
Here is a quick breakdown on how paper airplanes fly!
The two things that get paper airplanes to actually fly. Thrust and lift.
Regular aircraft have engines to get them moving forward and allow them to stay airborne. Paper airplanes and gliders don’t have this ability. So the only thrust on a paper airplane is only the person throwing said paper airplane.
Lift comes about when the air interacts with the wings of the paper airplane. With the way the paper airplane is moving you get air pushing up on the paper airplane and that air tries to get it to stay airborne. The pressure below the wing is higher than the pressure above the wing. So you get that air trying to push upwards.
If you had just thrust and lift there would be no issue, but like all things, what come up must come down. The things that inhibit a paper airplane to fly endlessly are drag that the airplane produces and if the drag is to much, gravity will eventually pull the airplane down.
While the basics of a paper airplane are simple, it is a great way to teach the aerodynamics of why they do fly. For more you can head over to NASA where they have a a basic introduction into paper airplanes and how to make a few different varieties.