Watch the World's Biggest Paper Airplane Soar and Then Crash Land

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
May 27 2014 11:55 AM

Watch the World's Biggest Paper Airplane Soar and Then Crash Land

paperwing
The Desert Eagle's wing.

Photo from GoPro.

Paper airplanes are the foe most of us never quite defeated during elementary school. It's tough to make them fly straight, get real lift, and build them to glide around instead of nose diving. So it's hard to imagine that a 45-foot-long, 26-foot-wide paper airplane could do much of anything. But Arturo's Desert Eagle— equipped with a GoPro, of course—had a 10-second flight over Arizona desert in March.

The Pima Air & Space Museum runs a Great Paper Airplane Project every year to get children interested in aerospace. Kids submit paper airplane designs and the winning entry (this one by 12-year-old Arturo Valdenegro) gets turned into a small model and then is built for real.

Advertisement

The Los Angeles Times reports that Arturo's Desert Eagle got lifted 2,700 feet into the air by a Sikorsky S-58T military helicopter where it was released. Originally the paper airplane was supposed to start its flight at 5,000 feet, but it was swaying too much to go all the way there. It still flew for about 10 seconds at about 100 mph before starting to break up and crash landing.

There are lots of great (and extreme) moments that have been captured by GoPros. They got amazing footage of Felix Baumgartner's free fall from space, took terrifying video from the perspective of Olympic lugers, and showed us what it's like to come face to face with a pelican. But there's something especially regal about the flight of Arturo's Desert Eagle. The video is like real life footage from Miyazaki's The Wind Rises: simultaneously exciting and strangely calm.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

TODAY IN SLATE

History

Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

The XX Factor

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

Now, journalists can't even say her name.

Doublex

Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

  News & Politics
History
Sept. 29 2014 11:45 PM The Self-Made Man The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 29 2014 3:10 PM The Lonely Teetotaler Prudie counsels a letter writer who doesn’t drink alcohol—and is constantly harassed by others for it.
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 29 2014 11:43 PM Lena Dunham, the Book More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal, but … What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 29 2014 11:56 PM Innovation Starvation, the Next Generation Humankind has lots of great ideas for the future. We need people to carry them out.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 29 2014 11:32 PM The Daydream Disorder Is sluggish cognitive tempo a disease or disease mongering?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.