Paper airplanes have fascinated children and adults alike around the globe for generations. A simple toy to some, an aeronautics research tool to others, paper airplanes can be folded into a variety of designs, from basic darts and gliders to intricate stunt planes and World War II airplanes. Turning paper into a flying machine may seem simple, but paper airplanes use the same principles of flight as airplanes. Whether they are made to set a world record or design a better airplane, paper airplanes can be educational, interesting and fun.
The invention of the paper airplane is mystery, but Leonardo Di Vinci is often given credit for the feat.
According to the Paper Aircraft Association, a paper airplane thrown in space will not fly; it will float in a straight line. Unless it hits an object, it could literally float forever (see Resources).
The record wingspan of a paper airplane is 40 feet and 10 inches. The craft flew over 114 feet before crashing into a wall.
Scientists, engineers and students use paper airplanes to study aerodynamics. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) sent a paper airplane to space on a space shuttle.
Paper airplanes can be made in many shapes. According to world record holder Ken Blackburn, airplanes in the shape of an "X," a hoop and a "futuristic spacecraft" can all be made to fly (see Resources).
The humidity outside can affect the performance of a paper airplane thrown inside.