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Kids hope to launch paper planes into history

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Kids hope to launch paper planes into history

Spots left to compete in Great Paper Airplane Project

  • greatpaperplane screengrab
  • Pima Air & Space Museum

“I folded. I flew. I made history,” is the message on the t-shirt to be worn by participants in the first Great Paper Airplane Project on Saturday at the Pima Air & Space Museum.

Kids ages 6 to 14 will compete to see whose aircraft flies the furthest. At stake is the title of guest engineer on a team building a plane to challenge the Guinness Book of World Record’s largest paper airplane record.

The huge paper plane will be launched from an altitude of 5,000 feet in early spring and built by experienced engineers. The winner of the competition will have their named painted onto the craft’s body and attend the exclusive launch.

“I want to see some really enthusiastic kids who are participating in aviation history,” said Yvonne Morris, executive director of the Arizona Aerospace Foundation and Pima Air & Space Museum.

There will be 300 slots for competitors. As of Thursday night about 150 kids were registered. Aspiring aviators can sign up at Walk-in registration will be from 10-11 a.m. Saturday at the Pima Air & Space Museum, 6000 E. Valencia Rd.

No matter the outcome, competitors receive the shirt and free admission to the museum for themselves and up to four family members.

In the Hangar One complex, children can climb into a real cockpit and run the flight controls.

“We don’t put barriers between our aircraft and our visitors,” Morris said. Families are welcome to touch all but the most fragile airplanes.

Ken Blackburn will be the master of ceremonies, judge the contest and offer plane-launching technique to participants.

Blackburn set his first record for longest paper plane flight in 1983 at 16.89 seconds and holds the current Guinness Book of World Record’s title for longest flight at 27.6 seconds in 1998.

“Practice makes perfect; the more you work at something, the better you get,” Blackburn said, giving advice to aspiring paper plane pilots.


What, where & when

  • Great Paper Airplane Project
  • Pima Air & Space Museum, 6000 E. Valencia Rd.
  • Saturday, 11 a.m.
  • Register online at or walk-in from 10-11 a.m.. Limited to 300 contestants.

Contestants can fold their airplanes prior to the contest, but paper will be available for those who want to fold at the museum. There will be a series of heats organized by age, and the top three — one from each bracket —will compete for the grand prize.

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