The world’s largest paper airplane flew over the Arizona desert last Wednesday. Called “Arturo’s Desert Eagle,” the paper airplane is 45 feet long, has a wingspan of 24 feet and weighs 800 pounds even though it’s based on a much smaller paper airplane that was created by 12 year-old Arturo Valdenegro of Tucson, Arizona. Arturo was winner of a contest that was put on by Pima Air & Space Museum that held the competition for children to see whose airplane could fly the farthest. The Great Paper Airplane Project was intended to get young people interested in careers in the aerospace industry, which Arturo looks to pursue as a career when he gets older.
Thanks to a team of engineers, led by aerospace engineer Art Thompson, the museum’s Great Paper Airplane Project was able to create a much larger version of Arturo’s smaller paper plane. The team first started with a 5-foot trial model and worked their way up to a 15-foot one until built the full 45-foot Desert Eagle from a type of corrugated cardboard that’s known as falcon board. To get the plane in the air, it was tethered to a cable attached to the underside of a vintage Sikorsky S-58T military helicopter that let it loose at about 2,700 feet. It glided for about 10 seconds, reaching speeds of about 100 mph before it crashed to the ground.