Photo credit: Twiste Sifter
The origin of folded paper airplanes is generally considered to be of Ancient China, since manufacture of paper on a widespread scale took place there during 500 BCE, and origami as well as paper folding became popular within a century of this period – approximately 460-390 BCE. The most significant use of paper models in aircraft designs were by the Wright brothers between 1899 and 1903, the date of the first powered flight from Kill Devil Hills, by the Wright Flyer. The brothers used a wind tunnel to gain knowledge of the forces which could be used to control an aircraft in flight. Read more to see a massive 122-inch paper airplane being flown.
This massive paper airplane, made by YouTube user “The Q”, measures 122-inches in length, and the longest flight achieved was around 328-feet. Jack Northrop (co-founder of Lockheed Corporation) used paper planes as test models for larger aircraft in 1930. In Germany, during the Great Depression, designers at Heinkel and Junkers utilized paper models to establish basic performance and structural forms in important projects, such as the Heinkel 111 and Junkers 88 tactical bomber programs.
Fast forward to modern day, paper model aircraft have gained great sophistication, and increased flight performance far removed from their origami origins, yet even these have gained many new and exciting designs over the years. Improvements include: velocity, lift, propulsion, style and fashion.