New world record for largest paper aeroplane. TU Braunschweig craft flies 18 metres on the first attempt
A team of TU Braunschweig set a new record today by building the world’s largest paper aeroplane, earning an entry in the Guinness World Records. The model aircraft, dubbed Carolo-Wilhelminchen, successfully glided a total of 18 metres. With a wing span of 18 metres, a length of 5 metres and weight of 24 kg, the model was made of nothing but paper and glue.
(German press release and pictures can be found here.)
As in the case of its smaller counterparts, only one person was allowed to throw the paper plane. Andreas Scholz launched the plane from a 2.4 metre high platform. “This time, it all worked straight away”, reports project head Martin Pietrek, a research employee at Technische Universität Braunschweig’s Institute of Aircraft Design and Lightweight Construction.
Building a paper aircraft of this size is an outstanding feat of engineering. The team, which comprised ten mechanical engineering students, five scientific employees and one secondary school pupil, had developed a new and original design, calculated its aerodynamic properties and then spent months gluing the individual parts together, finally assembling the whole model. For the team members, the record-breaking bid has been much more than just a hobby. Each of them learnt a tremendous amount in areas ranging from aerodynamics, joining technologies and materials science to teamwork and project management, knowledge which will help them in both their studies and their careers.
Only virtual testing was possible, along with stress testing of the individual components. “You cannot make a test flight with a paper plane of this size without risking a total failure”, Pietrek explains. An aircraft hangar was used as the site for the attempt.
To qualify for an entry in the Guinness World Records, the paper plane had to be larger than the previous record holder and manage to stay airborne over a minimum of 15 metres. The previous record was set in 1995, when students from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands managed to launch a paper aeroplane with a wing span of just under 14 metres. The challengers from Braunschweig had a maximum of 10 attempts to break this record.
On 2 November 2012, the team made a spectacular first attempt, which failed narrowly. “For the second attempt, we spent five times as long working on the project – and it paid off”, says Pietrek.
The TU students’ record will be aired at 7 pm on 27 October 2013, on German television channel Pro7, during the Galileo show.
Dipl.-Ing. Martin Pietrek
Institute of Aircraft Design and Lightweight Structures
Website of the paper aeroplane team:
www.tu-braunschweig.de/fmb/papierfliegerweltrekord [German content]
Carolo-Wilhelminchen paper plane with many photos on Facebook:
www.facebook.com/Carolo.Wilhelminchen [German content]