Brace yourself because it’s National Paper Airplane Day AND the day that the Frisbee became a registered trademark AND the birthday of Sally Ride who was the first woman in space.
Who among you can contain yourselves?
More importantly, when did you last build a paper airplane? Or rather, when did you last build a paper airplane that flew well and with which you could hit a target? I’ve heard tales that people build such planes but I never have, and what better day? Then I thought, if I could make a Frisbee I could compare paper airplanes and paper Frisbees!
Now that everyone’s rolling their eyes and saying “Good lord Kaitlyn, what’s with the DIY crafting?!” I want to point out in my defense that the majority of these ideas come from the internet driven, well-trodden path that DIY-ers have cleared for me. You can find directions online to make everything. If it’s packaged and sold in stores, someone has figured out how to make it using recycled trash and distilled essence of Oreos, or some such thing.
As to Frisbees, I’d never seen someone make one but I figured someone had and once I waded through all the paper plate Frisbee sites and the one person who made a flexible Frisbee with something called oogoo, I stumbled onto the NASA spaceplace. There they had a long explanation about small satellites (nanosats) and how they launch from rockets with a Frisbee like motion. After I quick scrolled through all that I found a paper pattern for a “nanosat” that looked an awful lot like a Frisbee. They also had instructions for a nanosat launcher but, seriously, people; I’ve celebrated Space an awful lot this month so we’re calling this a Frisbee and we’re foregoing the launcher.
Bet came home about this point, asked what holiday we were celebrating and when I said paper airplanes and Frisbees she said “I have an old calendar with paper airplane instructions for each day. We could build a bunch of different ones. Want to use that?” My sister is why a holiday every day is even possible, what with her flower looms and her paper airplane patterns.
I set up the experiment “scientifically” with a target on the window:
And a launching distance:
Thus commenced the big paper airplane build of 2011. I figured we’d build and fly the planes until we hit the target or we wearied of the experiment, though I suspected the latter would come first. It was all fun and games until I started the first plane and re-discovered that origami is hard. With the valley and mountain folds, weird arrows, circles and diagrams of perfectly folded pieces bearing no resemblance to the paper wad in my hand, it was a relief when Bet’s friend Jasper came by to see what we were celebrating and she suggested some liquid refreshment in the form of a gin and tonic:
Definitely yes, please.
Bet was better at the origami, and Jasper was better at the flying, which left me with the recording of “scientific” results scrawled in magic marker on scrap paper. Here are my results for posterity, such as they might be:
And had the advantage of turning into an 8-pointed star.
But couldn’t fly for crap. My scientific judgment is that it’s too heavy and wobbly with too much of a hole in the center. Bottom line: Pretty but ineffective.
Final tally: I’m giving this one to the planes and specifically to Sally Ride since it’s her birthday.
Happy Birthday Sally Ride!
To the rest of you: Go buy a Frisbee or build a plane, create a competition with your siblings and relive your younger years. Once you’ve tired of the folding, throwing and trash talking, abandon the planes to the real kids, have a refreshing beverage and remember why adulthood is good.
Happy Paper Airplane and Frisbee Day!