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Paper planes – it’s not a child’s play anymore!

paper planes Source: Saurabh Bhanderkar

In 2015, Mumbai's Saurabh Bhandekar represented India in this prestigious competition held in Salzburg, Austria.

It is known by various names - a paper plane, paper aeroplane, paper airplane, paper glider, or paper dart!

For children it is just a paper plane! Or is it?

In ancient China and Japan, the game of folded paper gliders was widespread.

As the art of Japanese origami became popular, based on aerodynamics, it took another form – aerogami.

In fact, Leonardo Da Vinci wrote a whole book on building model plane out of parchment.

Even the Wright brothers tested their airplane designs first on model paper planes!

Seeing the popularity of this art, an unofficial National Paper Airplane Day is also celebrated on 26th May each year in the United States of America to commemorate the simple aeronautical toy.

Since 2006, many young paper plane enthusiasts from around the world participate in international Red Bull Paper Wings airplane championship.

In 2015, Mumbai’s Saurabh Bhandekar represented India in this prestigious competition held in Salzburg, Austria.

One champion from each category gets to represent their country in the international shootout.

Saurabh says - “It may sound far-fetched if I tell you that my hobby of folding paper planes actually flew me to another continent. But it’s true!”

“My passion for the art compelled me to participate in the Red Bull Paperwings competition in 2012 where I secured first place in Mumbai in the Aerobatics category and qualified for the National shootout in Delhi” adds Saurabh.

The competition is held under the rules developed by the Paper Aircraft Association (PAA).

In this competition, contestants from 86 countries participated to be tested on –

  1. Distance (javelin throwing);
  2. Time (javelin throwing straight up with subsequent metamorphosis into a sailplane);
  3. Aerobatic (looping); and
  4. Stable flight to understand flight mechanics of a good plane.

Accompanying Saurabh in this competition was his friend and co-pilot Shantanu Joglekar who won the national contest in the longest airtime category.

Saurabh says – “The highlight of the competition for us besides experiencing the beautiful weather, delicious food and picturesque locations in Salzburg was the opportunity to meet and be judged by the authors of the books we first started learning from. And of course, getting the opportunity to represent our country at what can be said the Olympics of paper planes definitely makes you feel proud and grateful at the same time.”

“With exposure to this type of event for the first time we returned back home with a lot of lessons learnt and new ideas which surely can be employed to improve our performance in the next competition. Till then we will keep flying and cherish the rewards we have received in our pursuits of our passions, for as I have always said flying is fun!” adds Saurabh.

To know more about this internal competition and the fascinating story of paper planes in India, listen to Amit Sarwal’s conversation with Saurabh Bhandekar.