A week ago a 24 foot (7 m) wing span paper airplane flew. Sort of.
PIMA Air & Space Museum
The PIMA Air & Space museum is a great aviation museum. They have an excellent collection of airplanes. I was lucky enough to visit about five years ago. It is located in nearby Tucson, Arizona. I chatted with one of the docents and was really impressed with their dedication and love for the museum.
The Great Paper Airplane Project
The PIMA museum conceived the idea of creating a giant flying paper airplane. Yes, I am sure it was intended to be a publicity stunt.
The actual flight occurred a week ago over the Arizona desert. A few days ago they released a teaser video that only included the launch. I wanted to write about the project, but had to hold off while I waited for the actual flight video to be released. Here it is.
Now that the flight video has been released, I can understand their hesitation. The minute it was released by the helicopter it dove for the ground. It sported a pathetic glide ratio of 1.8 during its historic flight. They were even afraid to show video of what it looked like after the crash. Sad.
The wing area of an airplane goes up with the square of its size, but the weight goes up with the cube of its size. What that means is that an airplane gets heavier much faster than its ability to generate lift. That is why large full-size airplanes are made out of metal and not paper.
There are many technical challenges to building a giant paper airplane. The PIMA team is to be congratulated on their brave effort.