A letter from Scotland
David Watssman

Paper aeroplaneDear Michael,

Thanks so much for giving the world your amazing paper AEROPLANE (Forgive me I'm British!).

I found your site on one of those slow days at the office that just drag on and on... Finding myself with nothing to do that couldn't wait a few hours and with piles of scrap paper building up, I decided to build myself a paper aeroplane to while the hours away.

However, as my pathetic paper dart took shape, I realised that my knowledge on the subject was limited to the classic 7-folds-and-chuck-it style of 'aeroplane' that flies in one straight line and nestles itself deep in the dark reassesses of my bosses in-tray.

Coming to terms with my ignorance, I decided that help was needed... so I turned to the web.

I have to admit that yours was not the first site to be visited. In fact, I spent a good hour or so between doing actual work, bemusedly folding, tearing, cutting, gluing, stapling and swearing together various weird and not so wonderful designs. All, I might add claimed to be "The best Paper Airplane in the world", which I, upon construction, had ample reason to dispute.

Finally, to my delight, I came to your site and though initially disappointed at yet another site claiming to be 'The Best', I was intrigued by the artist rendition on the home page, and the neat and graceful lines it expressed. And so with eager anticipation I clicked on the link and began building the best paper airplane in the world.

I was delighted to find each step in the construction fully annotated in colour photography, and also that you had picked up on the one difficult part - steps 17 to 18 - and clarified the process.

A couple on minutes later, and there was my plane - looking identical to the pictures and ready to fly.

On reading your instructions on flying the plane, I threw caution to the wind and launched the plane across the office floor....

I was at first a little disappointed, as what looked to be the start of a promising dive was cut short by the ruthless intervention of one of my colleague's' bulbous head. On properly chastising him for his reckless disregard for my aiplanes safety, I resigned myself to further testing at home: the office being far too treacherous a place for innocent aiplanes to be flying.

After a leisurely dinner, I raced upstairs to throw the plane from my bedroom window.... and how delighted I was when the plane produced a neat little loop in the air and then glider gracefully down in a long, slow spiral, resting neatly on the grass after 7 or 8 seconds.

My heart lifted, I proceeded to bore, annoy, irritate, cajole and eventually persuade my family to come out and see this wonderful toy. Each was equally surprised at the planes remarkable gliding abilities, as well as commenting on its uncanny tree-finding capabilities.

All in all then, I am delighted with your airplane, and have even attempted a few slight modifications to aid balance and flight time. I was especially enthralled by its performance in a stiff headwind, in which it may stop in the air and actually climb in little jumps to quite remarkable hights, much to the surprise of amazed on-looking children and passers-by.

I'm currently working on an advanced launching system, involving a modified glider, a toy slingshot, various bits of Lego stolen from my little brother, some blue-tac, a screwdriver and some cocktail sticks, which I hope will add several tens of feet to my fairly feeble hand launching technique.

In conclusion then, I'd just like to thank you for lightning up a few dreary hours in the office, and at home, and for giving me something to annoy my family with - at least for a little while. I'm sure that some day, away in the future, I'll be teaching my eight year old children, and grandchildren, how to make this remarkable little airplane.

Many thanks,

David Watssman, a 19 year-old third-year Physics student at St. Andrews University, Scotland, currently working in an un-named call centre near his home in the Highlands.

PS: I'll send you any updates on that launching system as it develops!

Paper airplane home page.