The red carpets roll out, the stage is set, and upwards of 50 people start to file in the Recreation Center to watch, or compete in, a Red Bull sanctioned competition, the winner of which won a KTM backpack and a three-day pass to the Sasquatch music festival and a chance for an all-expenses paid trip to Austria for the world championship.
That’s a lot of planning, and money, for a paper airplane competition.
Yes, you read that right.
Red Bull, major energy drink provider and lover of action sports, is sponsoring a lot of people’s childhood dream of being the best paper airplane thrower in the world.
But this wasn’t any schoolyard competition, no—there was a nine-page rule sheet, a sanctioned field of play, and each competitor had to sign a liability waiver.
There were three different competitions participants could enter: distance, flight time, and acrobatics, all three judged by a panel of two students and Wellington Wildcat.
I entered to competition to put my childhood skills to the test, and ended up with a 31-foot, 5-inch distance record, 2.3 seconds of flight time and a total of 12 out of 30 style points (I’d like to point out that I hadn’t folded a paper airplane in probably a decade prior to this competition).
The winners, however, made my marks, which I’m decently proud of, pale in comparison.
Tyler Starks threw his airplane an amazing 88 feet, three inches to capture the distance record. He told a fellow reporter that he knew he was going to win from the moment he signed up.
Nicholas Simmons won the airtime competition with a funky-looking square block of a plane that traveled no more than 20 feet from him but hung up in the air for a miraculous 7.22 seconds.
The acrobatics champion was Jon Koziol, whose plane twisted, twirled, and flipped it’s way to 28 of 30 possible points.
Needless to say, I was woefully outclassed, but I enjoyed my couple hours throwing paper airplanes. It brought back childhood memories, and through conversations with competitors, I was actually able to learn a lot about how to properly make an airplane to reduce drag and improve aerodynamics.
That’s actually one of the reasons that Red Bull hosted the event, according to Red Bull’s Field Marketing Manager Bob Snyder. Central Washington University’s (CWU) flight and engineering programs made it an easy choice for them to try and get the best paper airplane pilots in the state.
There was an ex-Air Force member who competed, along with students several students in the aviation program, all of which had their own twist on how to make the best paper airplane, but of course weren’t too keen on sharing too many of their secrets.
Regardless, if any of CWU’s competitors make it to Austria, I’m definitely going to be cheering them on as they live out their childhood once more. –written by Chace Davy