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Giant Paper Airplane Takes (Brief) Flight Over Arizona

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the real-world-conditions-sorta dept.

Toys 54

The L.A. Times reports that 12-year-old Arturo Valdenegro's winning entry in a paper-airplane contest got upscaled to slightly larger dimensions, courtesy of Pima Air & Space Museum's Giant Paper Airplane Project, and flown, via helicopter assistance, in the Arizona desert. Slightly larger, in this case, means the plane based on Valdenegro's designs "was 45 feet long with a 24-foot wingspan and weighed in at a whopping 800 pounds," constructed of a tough, corrugated material called falcon board. Unfortunately, the tow didn't take the plane as high as planned (only 2,703 feet, instead of four or five thousand) so the resulting flight was brief and destructive — which doesn't make the accompanying launch video any less fun to watch, though I wish it showed more of the flight, including its end. (I tend to always make the same kind of acrobatic glider; do you have any good paper-airplane hints?)

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What's missing (5, Funny)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | about 2 years ago | (#39460257)

is an equally upscaled trebuchet.

Re:What's missing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39460283)

The idea of a trebuchet style mass driver gives me shivers.

Also I'm pretty sure it would be impossible.

Re:What's missing (1)

Nimey (114278) | about 2 years ago | (#39461377)

Nonsense. With modern composite materials you could do it.

Yes, a treb made of whatever materials you make an F-18E out of. Shut up, that's why.

Re:What's missing (1)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 2 years ago | (#39463977)

is an equally upscaled trebuchet.

What would you do with such a thing, fling container-ship across the English channel?

I'd I donate to the kickstarter fund.

A decent hint. (2)

chr1st1anSoldier (2598085) | about 2 years ago | (#39460305)

Light the paper airplane on fire as you are throwing it.

Re:A decent hint. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39460309)

DARPA is already on it.

Re:A decent hint. (0)

chr1st1anSoldier (2598085) | about 2 years ago | (#39460355)

omg, i'm such a n00b and fb whore, I tried to thumb up your comment.

Re:A decent hint. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39460421)

That's funny stuff! Thanks for the laugh. :)

Re:A decent hint. (3, Funny)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | about 2 years ago | (#39461169)

omg, i'm such a n00b and fb whore, I tried to thumb up your comment.

Around here it tends to be more of a "single finger" up and it's often applied via an AC comment...

Re:A decent hint. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39464343)

Precisely. ,.!..

noob, clearly. You won't win anything around this community by admitting either of those things, especially when your post is constructed like a lame YouTube comment, hoping against hope for validation of your meaningless existence from others in the form of virtual appreciation of your supposedly clever commentary.

As an European citizen... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39460339)

I lost interest after the summary. :( Seriously, America, when are you going to use meters and kilograms, again?

Re:As an European citizen... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39460371)

The same reason we aren't into piss porn and hairy bitches like you guys, we don't want to be like you.

Fucking Eurotrash (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39460527)

... This is AMERICA, go loiter at your own fucking web site, BITCH.

Re:As an European citizen... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39460681)

As an American Citizen, when it's the right time for us, not when anonymous coward citizens from other nations whine about it. It's not your problem. Deal with it.

Re:As an European citizen... (1)

Bitsy Boffin (110334) | more than 2 years ago | (#39463515)

Because you're so good at keeping out of the business of other countries...

Re:As an European citizen... (4, Funny)

flimflammer (956759) | about 2 years ago | (#39460717)

Should people who still weigh themselves in stone really argue this on Slashdot?

Re:As an European citizen... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39464989)

Actually noone uses stone here, anymore. Except for the Brits (and they don't quite count). And even the Brits stopped using it as legal unit in the mid-1980s. Of course that doesn't stop them using it informally...

Re:As an European citizen... (3, Interesting)

Dogtanian (588974) | about 2 years ago | (#39461823)

I lost interest after the summary. :( Seriously, America, when are you going to use meters and kilograms, again?

Of course, there's always the possibility that the parent AC is really just an American troll trying to stir up trouble, as we spell it "metres" in Britain.

They *could* be from elsewhere in Europe and using the American spelling when writing in English, but I wouldn't put the likelihood of trolldom past the OP... :-)

Re:As an European citizen... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39462449)

When their educational system fails badly enough that it is finally too much for their youth to remember the random conversion factors. When their students can finally only divide and multiply by ten they will no longer have a choice.

Amazing! It jumped over barricades as it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39460351)

hurdled to the ground

Re:Amazing! It jumped over barricades as it (1)

Sla$hPot (1189603) | about 2 years ago | (#39461541)

Pulling it after a helicopter doesn't qualify as flying.

Best paper airplane book ever... (4, Informative)

Freddybear (1805256) | about 2 years ago | (#39460411) []

The Great International Paper Airplane Book, from 1971.

Re:Best paper airplane book ever... (4, Informative)

rcw-home (122017) | about 2 years ago | (#39460615)

I can also recommend Wings & Things [] . I usually make the "Blackboard Bomber" design from there.

Re:Best paper airplane book ever... (1)

flimflammer (956759) | about 2 years ago | (#39460693)

Mmmm. Hot wings.

Feet, foot, inch? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39460431)

Why not use a more sane system of measurement like the metric system so the story would make more sense?

Re:Feet, foot, inch? (0)

kidgenius (704962) | about 2 years ago | (#39460595)

This took place in America. So it makes sense to put the measurements in Imperial units. As much as I love the metric for easy conversions, it's hard to argue with the ability to divide the foot into 2, 3, or 4 parts easily. Besides, for everyday use, it's nicer to have units spaced relatively close. The difference between a foot and an inch isn't so great that you wish you had something in between. Metric on the other hand? You have to make a jump from the tiny centimeter, to the relatively huge meter, with nothing in between to easily reference.

Re:Feet, foot, inch? (3, Informative)

FrootLoops (1817694) | about 2 years ago | (#39460625)

You have to make a jump from the tiny centimeter, to the relatively huge meter, with nothing in between to easily reference.

What about the decimeter [] ?

Re:Feet, foot, inch? (2)

gstrickler (920733) | about 2 years ago | (#39460799)

Yeah, no one uses dm, or any unit that isn't a multiple/factor of 1000 other than cm and occasionally cl. Deci, deca, and hecto are defined, but almost never used, so most people who know the metric system won't recognize or understand them.

Re:Feet, foot, inch? (1)

gonzonista (790137) | about 2 years ago | (#39461143)

What about hectares? These are very commonly used when dealing with land.

Re:Feet, foot, inch? (2)

W2k (540424) | about 2 years ago | (#39461149)

Maybe this varies from country to country, but here in Sweden, the decimeter, deciliter, centimeter and centiliter, hectogram (typically just called "hecto" for short) are used very frequently and you would have a hard time finding anyone over the age of 7 who doesn't have an intuitive understanding of them.

However, we pretty much never use "deca" and "hectoliter" is very rare, though most people know what they are.

Re:Feet, foot, inch? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39468171)

Sweden, as usual, is very sensible in that. In the Netherlands, nobody uses the term "hectogram". Instead, they redefined the meaning of 'imperial' units to match the metric system. In Holland if you ask for an ounce of meat, you'll get 100 grams; if you ask for a pound, you'll get 500. It's metric too, just like Sweden- but not quite "as metric". It's still a far cry from how things work in Britain, where weights of most products are specified in grams. So they've converted to metric, right? Well, not quite. A typical pack of coffee will be 227 grams as opposed to 250, milk will come in bottles of 2272 ml instead of 2 litres, and so on. Sure, they've converted to metric. But they haven't grokked it.

Re:Feet, foot, inch? (1)

Marcika (1003625) | more than 2 years ago | (#39463431)

Hectares are common everywhere. Scientists and engineers everywhere use hectopascal. In quite a few languages you order 30 deca(grammes) of ham just as you would order 10 ounces in the US at the butcher's till, or 5 deci(litres) of wine in a restaurant.

Ergo: speak for yourself.

Re:Feet, foot, inch? (1)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39467061)

The hectare is a bad example because the "are", and consequently the hectare [] , was not accepted as an SI unit. It exists as a legacy measure unit "...whose use was limited to the measurement of land."

Similarly, hectopascal [] is a modern adaptation of the legacy pressure measurement "millibar". It allows them to continuing using the customary unit of millibar by redefining 1mbar = 1 hPa. In effect, they're still using millibars, they just use a different name now.

As for your other examples, the fact that you had to find very specific examples in specific countries and cultures demonstrates my point quite effectively. Ever heard the phrase "the exception proves the rule"? This is a great example of that.

Re:Feet, foot, inch? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39460757)

Here's a hint, "genius":

Why this trip was modded insightful ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39460791)

You don't need to make any jump and hoop. You just use 1 m=100 cm=10 dm. Decimeter every heard of them ? 1 dm=10 cm. And the argument about divisible by 3 ? You are arguying about using a system which has no logical conversion from inch to foot to yard to miles (which ? Nautic ? the other ?) to whatever but you want somethign divisible by 3 ? Are you on grass ? Are you stoned ? Just admit you have no clue and would rather stay in your middle age/renaissance unit rather than use what the rest of the world is using out of spite or lazyness or a combo of both.

There is no worst blind than the one which do not want to see. US using imperial units is the perfect example of that.

Re:Why this trip was modded insightful ? (1)

FrootLoops (1817694) | about 2 years ago | (#39462589)

There is no worst blind than the one which do not want to see. US using imperial units is the perfect example of that.

You're arguing against someone because they're stuck in the past when you're stuck on an overgeneralization. The metric system is used in the US in a number of places, notably by medical professionals, scientists, and sometimes engineers. There are actually some decent arguments for Fahrenheit over Celsius (2 sig figs gives good human-scale accuracy vs. 3 with Celsius; the 0-100 range is pretty much the human range; neither are absolute anyway). On the whole, Imperial is used far more often, but certainly not exclusively.

I'd be fine with a change to metric length, speed, mass, and volume. I'm undecided on area and temperature. Whatever sadist made 640 acres to a square mile should be shot. The more complicated units like energy or power are mostly metric already (eg. kWh -- a ridiculous unit if ever there was one).

Re:Feet, foot, inch? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39461211)

Real Engineers measure in millimeters. :>
Besides, dm is mostly useless anyway once you pass lenghts of one meter. In practice, you'd use mm up to 1 m, and then decimals of that, i.e 1.4 or 1.43 m.

Re:Feet, foot, inch? (3, Informative)

cgomezr (1074699) | about 2 years ago | (#39463289)

So do Americans find the jump from the tiny cent to the relatively huge dollar inconvenient, then? :)

Seriously, there *is* an intermediate unit (dm), but people usually don't use it because it's not necessary. I'm 1 m 96 cm tall, if I grew 10 cm I would be 2 m 6 cm tall. Dead simple, there's no need for any intermediate unit for everyday use.

It's funny how people not using metric, but imagining what it would be like, always make up strange drawbacks that no one in countries that actually use the system has found.

Re:Feet, foot, inch? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39464353)

yes units like stones

What could possibly follow? (1)

terminalhype (971547) | about 2 years ago | (#39460519)

A Giant Paper Spit-wad?

Best paper plane, IMO (5, Interesting)

mark-t (151149) | about 2 years ago | (#39460633)

It took me a few minutes of searching for me to find, since I did not know the name for this plane (or even if it had one), but here are some folding directions for what I consider to be the best paper plane ever: [] . When I was a kid, I had employed this paper design in a classroom competition, while almost everybody else was making the standard dart, I used this glider design, and mine was one of the few that cleared the entire length of the gymnasium (and would have kept on going right onto the stage at the end of the gym if the curtain had not been shut). I'm afraid I don't know what the dimensions of my school gym were, but I imagine they were typical for an elementary school.

Re:Best paper plane, IMO (1)

flimflammer (956759) | about 2 years ago | (#39460709)

That's almost the same plane I made as a kid. Every step was the same except for fold #3, where a flat face is given in the Eagle, mine were pointed. Otherwise it's the same design I grew up with.

Re:Best paper plane, IMO (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39460969)

I didn't do the dart either, nor did I do the eagle. I made some other design [] that became a tad infamous at the high school I went to. They weren't fast, but they tended to get some seriously long glides if the slight bend at the tail end is done right. (BTW the video is more about folding it, as there isn't enough room in the house to properly show it flying.)

Re:Best paper plane, IMO (1)

Thomasje (709120) | about 2 years ago | (#39461137)

This (second from right) [] is my favorite. You do need glue or tape to make it, which may disqualify it depending on how purist your rules are.
The one in the photo has a straw for a fuselage, but you can make it from paper by folding a long strip of paper into a three-sided prism and taping or gluing it shut. The two ring-shaped wings should be slightly different diameters, and the plane should be launched small ring forward. It is amazingly stable and I could throw it farther than any competing plane in my class. I'm not sure if it would travel the full length of my elementary-school gym, but it wouldn't surprise me if it did.

Re:Best paper plane, IMO (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39461745)

I hated that design. Lousy pitch control. Almost every implementation I saw did a 6 foot loop and crashed. Yeah, some people swore by it and got spectacular results but they just didnt' seem to be consistantly reproduceable.

One of my favorite designs was the flying wing where you folded half the sheet of standard 8.5 by 11 to create the leading edge and then used scissors to cut out the general shape and control surfaces. I can't find a picture. It wasn't very popular because it was perhaps just a bit more difficult to get right. It also had to be launched by holding onto the leading edge and flicking the wrist. It had fantastic glide ratio and could even be taken outdoors. The rolled up leading edge gave it some stiffness and kept it from being blown out of shape. I once launced one half a block in wind and it was truly riding the wind as opposed to being blown like a leaf. OTOH it couldn't be thrown too quickly without becoming unstable so the glide ratio only helped if you were in a contest that involved dropping it from a particular height.

My 2nd favorite design was a standard dart with stabilizers and little cuts (or fingernail warping) for control surfaces.

Just folding precisely and adding control surfaces to the standard dart got you head and shoulders above the unstable, spinning parabolic crap that most kids were throwing.

My paper airplane site (4, Interesting)

rwa2 (4391) | about 2 years ago | (#39460939) [] (/shameless plug)

Most planes like the one in the article sort of fly like darts, so of course it had a pretty lousy glide slope. They might have done a bit better with a glider design, that might have rode thermals for a while, but it probably would have been harder on the structural design.

My friends and I tried to make paper airplanes out of large poster boards back in high school, but they didn't do too well (one of my "reader's rides" on my site has video of an attempt to make a posterboard version one of my aircraft). Unfortunately, paper airplanes don't scale up very well. The best results I've seen look more like actual conventional glider aircraft that just happened to be built up using ribs and spars made of paper and covered with a light sheet of paper skinning material.

Re:My paper airplane site (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 2 years ago | (#39464817)

My favourite is actually nothing like anything you have on your site, but more similar to this one [] , only you make it diagonally across the paper so that it (a) has a longer extension at the rear bottom but almost none at the top, which seems to make it more stable somehow and (b) has a larger diameter. I've flown one made from an A3 sheet over a distance of about 60-70m (large lecture theatre) and it is beautifully slow and graceful.

my favorites: (1)

jbwolfe (241413) | about 2 years ago | (#39461239)

These: [] are great and Fry's used to sell them, but only get the ones that have balsa inserts (if they still make them). The all paper ones require too much glue and cutting. And for an honest paper folded airplane, this one is a great flyer: []

Meh (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | about 2 years ago | (#39462345)

Phineas and Ferbs' was better. That got them off the island and across a good part of the Atlantic...

World Record Plane (2)

spandex_panda (1168381) | about 2 years ago | (#39462673)

This is my new go-to plane. It has an excellent glide and isn't too hard to make. It also looks really good and has a clever nose design.
It is a variation of the stunt plane I decided was my favourite when I was doing my plane testing in my youth! []

Good design :) (1)

Alioth (221270) | more than 2 years ago | (#39464845)

I used a very similar design for paper planes myself, except at least on the A4 sheet of paper type, I always folded the pointy tip of the nose back about a centimeter. It improved the balance of the aircraft, made it much more stable, and it would fly much further (and it also made the nose more resilient on landing). This design has a bit of an aft centre-of-gravity if you don't fold the nose back a bit.

The other thing I used to do is to make a little vertical tail in the middle. I don't think that made any actual difference though.

Certainly at the A4 sheet scale you can make a paper plane like this that from a hand launch goes a long way and wins contests :-)

wrong choice of design (1)

Avatar8 (748465) | more than 2 years ago | (#39473369)

As many others have commented here, the basic "dart" is one of the worst possible designs for gliding. I, too, spent many, many hours in school designing, folding and testing airplanes. Once you've exhausted what you, your friends and other paper airplane enthusiasts around you know, finding a new source (like White Wings or Wings & Things) you get inspired to go in new directions and try new materials.

I was taught the "basic glider" (according to rwa2 and his website) by a Japanese man who called it a "Mitsubishi." The best and worst part of the design was that any inconsistencies in folds would result in erratic, acrobatic flights. While looping, swerves and abrupt dives are cool for random throwing, they are counterproductive to gliding.

My point is that any paper airplane enthusiast who has spent more than two hours folding paper knows the dart is the worst possible design. While I applaud that any organization put effort into a project such as this, I'm baffled that more work was not put into a better design.

Low speed aerodynamics do not scale up well, it appeared the center of gravity was not even tested and I saw no presence of a dihedral, the keystone of a paper plane's stability against rolling.

They'd probably have done better to scale up a flying hole. []

I like the ring paper airplane (1)

SiChemist (575005) | more than 2 years ago | (#39476641)

My favorite paper airplane is the ring. []

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