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Fun Facts About Paper Airplanes

With the help of Al Bowers and Red Jensen, David Rees throws the giant paper airplane as hard as he can.  Red is a NASA engineer, and one of the few people who actually interrupts David and lives to tell the tale.

How to Throw a Paper Airplane (View larger version)

Photograph by True Entertainment

  • Sometimes called “the father of aviation,” Sir George Cayley designed the first successful glider to carry a human.

  • Paper was invented in China around 105 AD. By the fourteenth century, there were paper mills in Europe.

  • The word “origami” comes from the Japanese words “oru” meaning fold, and kami, meaning “paper”.

  • In 2012, workers restoring a chapel in England found paper “planes” up in the eaves thought to be more than a hundred years old.

  • The first book about recreational paper folding came out in Japan in 1797, and included the iconic “crane” design.

  • The world’s largest paper aircraft was built by the students and employees of the Braunschweige Institute of Technology in Germany in 2013. It had a wing span of almost 60 feet weighed over 50 pounds.

  • Famous people with a fear of flying include director Stanley Kubrick, comedian Whoopi Goldberg, and sports personality John Madden.

  • Together, Chinese and US paper mills combine to make forty percent of the world’s paper and paperboard.

  • Harris hawks exhibit a behavior known as “stacking,” standing on top of one another when perching spots are scarce. Up to three birds can perch atop another one.

  • Flying fish have been recorded taking “flights” over the water stretching up to 1,300 feet.

  • The Harris hawk was named after Edward Harris, a friend of John J. Audubon.

  • Kitty Hawk in North Carolina is the site of the first powered airplane flight. In 1903, the Wright brothers tested their biplane “the Flyer” on sand dunes outside the town.