To The Skies!

Our family has been going nutz with the Klutz Book of Paper Airplanes. There are some really fun designs in there, and of course having a fleet of assorted paper airplanes naturally lends itself to hilarity, depending on how funny you think it is when cherished family heirlooms are suddenly broken.

I remember getting to fourth or fifth grade and all of a sudden all these weird new planes started showing up. The Katydid, Space Cruisers, Professionals, Swashbucklers. I never questioned where they came from; I guess I just assumed that when you got older, the paper airplanes got better. But I sure wasn’t making them. I was stuck with the same crappy dart design, never accurately folded or properly creased, for which I now have a far better appreciation.

Looking back, it seems clear that somebody took the time to check out the right book from the library, and a fleet began to work it’s way slowly through the classrooms. I have a handful of different kids in my mind as possible perpetrators, kids who were either not doing well in school, and thus would have the time to build a Katydid, or kids whose rooms at home were full of old radios and electronics they liked to take apart and put back together. Some kids are just engineers from Day One, pretty much, but not me. It took me about 14,000 days to decide I liked folding paper airplanes.

In fact, within a day the 10 previously far-out designs in the Klutz book could no longer sate my insatiable desire to create new and different paper airplanes using, as always, traditional origami techniques. I went to the internets with high hopes to hone my craft, but those were dashed. It turns out the online paper airplane “community” is awash with paranoia, delusions of mediocrity, and a more than representative sample of the detritus of abandoned web pages. All anybody wants to talk about is their Exclusive Design for whatever, which usually looks like the three other planes you just looked at on another page, but folded in a different order or something. Oh, but that matters! Oh, sure. Different folding order means you get a different structural such and such, and blah, blah, blah.  Either that or it’s a ghost town of a web site put together by a sad collection of goofballs who, for two weeks in July of ’04, decided they were going to develop the greatest web page in the history of web pages devoted to their newfound passion, paper aeronautics.

I remember when it used to be about the planes. Or rather, when it wasn’t quite so much about the planes, but about the camaraderie of folding paper and cutting up in class and smelling rubber cement. But I’m sad to say the online paper airplane community isn’t about that at all.

The Professional

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