Red Bull hosts paper plane contest


Alexa Caponigro

On Sunday, Feb. 20, the Red Bull Paper Wings competition took place at the Central Bank Center, where contestants competed for a chance to attend the World Final in Salzburg, Austria.

The event is broken up into three different competitions: Distance, airtime and aerobatics. In order to compete, all paper planes must be created from one piece of A4 paper, not more than 100 grams and only be modified through folding. Therefore, “no ripping, gluing, cutting, stapling or ballasting is allowed,” according to Red Bull.

All paper planes were constructed at the event before the competition.

“Determining the best design and making one that flew stably over a long distance was a challenge,” freshman Brandon Edwards said.

Once the paper plane is constructed, the contestants are allowed to practice throwing to test out their planes before they compete.

Edwards said after throwing for the first few times, it started to feel more natural, thus easing his nerves before competing.

The event organizers created a light-hearted, fun environment for competitors. Contestants enjoyed free refreshments, including Red Bull drinks and snacks, listened to a DJ play music and watched the competition.

Michaela Winfree, a University of Kentucky freshman, said she came to support Edwards and also enjoy the free Red Bull.

She said they heard about the event after UK advertised it in an email. “[The university] suggested it and said it would be a fun thing,” Winfree said.

Edwards and Winfree then signed up and came for their first time. They both enjoyed the competition and made plans to attend next year.

Winfree said she thought the event was much more entertaining than expected since professionals attended the event. In particular, she explained how a man at the event has a YouTube channel for creating planes.

Once the contestants are ready to compete, they are allowed two attempts at their throw. After the first attempt, a contestant is allowed to use a different plane for their second if they would like.

To qualify as a solid attempt, Red Bull states, “the plane must be launched by one person throwing it unaided from behind a straight launch line marked on the floor. Passing over the launch line results in disqualification. Touching the launch line or any point beyond during the launch is considered an invalid attempt. After completion of the launch, the thrower may move beyond the launch line.”

Freshman Ethan Smith, now ranked third globally in the distance competition, offered insight into his process of creating the paper plane and design.

“I did some research yesterday and built six planes,” he said.

In the end, he chose his final construction from googling designs and picked one because “it was the world record design.”

Smith said he was surprised at how far his plane went (34.84m) since he never really built one before. Smith plans to compete again next year.

The results of each competition are uploaded to Red Bull’s website.