Taking Flight

On Wednesday 16th January students were challenged to take to the air using only a single sheet of A4 paper.  The aspiring aeronautical engineers were invited to produce their own paper aeroplane using one of six design templates or their own special blueprints.  About one hundred high fliers took part in the competition that was held at lunchtime in the Dome. The competiton was part of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) week at the Academy.

At the start of the session there was a flurry of activity as each student gathered their piece of paper and began meticulously folding and creasing. The rules did not allow any sticking, cutting or the addition of any other materials. Test flights highlighted aerodynamical issues and designs were tweaked and adjusted until they were all flying to their best of ability.

There were two categories in the competition, with students competing either to fly the furthest distance or to stay in the air for the longest time.

The first event was the furthest distance travelled.  Each round saw ten planes soaring the across the Dome in a bid to reach the far side.  The furthest distance from each round was logged and the winner identified.  Notable runners up include: Reece Evans’ great effort of 14.4m and Adam Edwards’ excellent distance of 16.67m.  But the overall winner, just 6cm further than Adam, with an outstanding throw of 16.73m was Toby Pearce. Toby explained his success, “I followed my own design, one my gran taught me when I was younger.  I’ve played cricket for a long time and I think that helped with my throwing technique.”

The second competition was to find the plane that could spend the longest time in flight.  The format was similar to the distance with the planes being thrown in a number of rounds.  The last plane to land from each round was recorded.  In the very first round Josh Bose threw a plane that soared for 3.93 seconds, a record that stood for six rounds.  He was eventually beaten by Beau Rogers, whose design stayed up for 4.02 seconds. The final victor of this round was Gabriel Hestletine whose plane seemed to defy gravity as it swept around the room: it lasted an epic 4.75 seconds before landing.

The winners each received a £15 iTunes voucher and the title of Paper Aeroplane Champion 2013.

STEM week is part of a wider STEM Festival, a series of national events that are designed to engage students through hands on, creative activities. Andy Troup, Head of Science said, “STEM activities enable students to appreciate the excitement and importance of science, technology, engineering and maths in their lives, and how these subjects lead to future opportunities and careers.”