Hi, I’m Peter Vollheim, author of three books on the subject of paper airplanes totaling to 70 published designs.
Ever since I was a small child, I’ve been fascinated with paper airplanes. I lived in a 5th floor apartment in New York City, which was a perfect launching site for my designs. However as much fun as it was; I always thought that better flight performance was achievable.
However, it wasn’t until I was a teenager studying for my pilot’s license and became acquainted with full-sized aircraft, that I realized there is little difference between a full sized aircraft and a paper airplane. Be it a ¼ ounce paper airplane or a full sized 747 airliner weighing 900,000 pounds, the laws of aerodynamics apply to both in the same way.
Realizing that, I built a series of wind tunnels and started designing paper airplanes that utilize full-sized aerodynamic features, as found in full sized aircraft. On these designs, I focused on achieving efficient aerodynamics instead of relying on elaborate paper folds, which can detract from an efficient airframe.
With that in mind, I started looking at materials beyond paper, which could provide an improvement in performance. In my three books, there are 37 fold-up paper designs – and 33 hybrid designs, which utilize business and index cards, providing aerodynamically clean, stiff wing sections. I also discovered the most significant contribution to the next evolution of paper airplane flight – the plastic drinking straw. The plastic drinking straw is everything an airplane designer looks for in materials; it is quite strong, it is very light weight, and best of all, it is readily available for little to no cost. These materials, allow for more efficient and exotic designs with expanded performance over the traditional paper airplane.
Another benefit of using business and index cards for these designs is simplicity in manufacture. By stacking them, a person can make multiple wing sections at a time during their construction, thereby reducing building time. This is a faster and more precise way to make paper airplanes over the traditional fold-up design. Where necessary, my designs include full-sized templates that can be traced onto your card stock, which ensures a perfect wing every time.