Giant Paper Airplane Soars Over Arizona Skies


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Building paper airplanes and tossing them around is great fun. However, what would be even cooler is building the world's largest one and taking it to the skies to see how long it could stay afloat. That, is exactly what a 12-year old and some engineers from Tucson's Pima Air and Space Museum did on Wednesday, March 21st.

Spearheaded by a team that included former NASA engineer Art Thompson and Guinness World Record holder for keeping a paper airplane aloft for the longest time, Ken Blackburn, the historic flight was the grand finale of the Giant Paper Airplane Fly-Off - A competition for which 6-14 year olds had to design and create airplanes using an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper and see whose would fly the furthest.

It attracted over 200 airplane enthusiasts including 12-year old Tucson resident Arturo Valdenegro, whose engineering marvel went the longest distance. His prize not only included a medal and certificate, but also, a chance to help the experts build a giant version of his design which, was named after him.

Arturo's Desert Eagle, which took 2 months to 'fold' was 45 feet long, had a wingspan of 24 feet and thanks to the paper-based graphic board (Falconboard) it was crafted from, weighed an astounding 800lbs (363 kg). In fact, it was so heavy that the first launch had to be delayed because the airplane buckled under its own weight and had to be carried back to the hanger for some adjustments.

It emerged a few hours later, good as new, and was lifted up into the sky with its nose attached to a Sikorsky S58T helicopter. While the initial plan had been to launch it from 5,000 feet, the pilot encountered stronger than expected winds and decided to let the behemoth free, at 4,000 feet.

Arturo's Eagle lived up to its name, gliding at a speed of about 98 mph for six seconds, before heading down. Unfortunately, the plane crumbled under its own weight, and transformed back into a useless heap of paper, as it hit ground.

Luckily however, the historic flight, believed to be the first of its kind was caught on tape by a chaser plane. To read more about how the engineers created this nifty paper airplane and see additional pictures check out


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  • gold3nglare
    gold3nglareWednesday, January 13, 2021 at 7:38 am
    • starwarsfan300
      starwarsfan300Sunday, November 25, 2018 at 4:30 pm
      wow amazing
      • t-kun
        t-kunFriday, May 18, 2018 at 7:29 am
        how much lift does that thing need
        • cen85
          cen85Wednesday, May 17, 2017 at 3:44 am
          THAT GETS OMG
          • jz2868
            jz2868Sunday, February 12, 2017 at 8:48 am
            Biiiiiig!!!!!!! Wow!!!!! ★★★★★★★✨
            • im bored sooo..Wednesday, March 23, 2016 at 12:48 pm
              i like turtles
              • benMonday, February 22, 2016 at 5:06 am
                i wanna see the impact!...
                • smileyman
                  smileymanSaturday, December 12, 2015 at 6:41 am
                  sooooo cool
                  • raccoons123
                    raccoons123Friday, December 11, 2015 at 6:28 pm
                    I was in the contest I won 4 place✈️🚁
                    • specialist
                      specialistFriday, August 12, 2016 at 6:49 pm
                      Good job.
                    • cocoSunday, May 10, 2015 at 3:16 pm
                      i thout it would not fly like that