Paper Planes for a Purpose

Throwing paper airplanes in class used to be a sure way to get detention and a lecture from your teacher. But this weekend, the maker of the paper airplane that flies the farthest will win an iPad and a flight for two over Tucson.

About 350 children have registered to compete in the third annual Great Paper Airplane Fly-Off, which is divided into three age groups: 6 to 8, 9 to 11 and 12 to 14. Ken Blackburn, a Guinness World Records holder for paper airplane flights, will be on hand to give the kids demonstrations on folding and flying techniques. The contestant with the longest flight in each age bracket wins an iPad with a flight simulation app, a 30-minute flight from Double-Eagle Aviation valued at $200, and a Great Paper Airplane Project flight jacket. The winners also get their name engraved on a trophy that's on permanent display in the museum.

New this year is the Family Fun Fly-Off, where 10 families, or teams of up to six, compete for a yearlong family membership to the museum and a 30-minute flight for two from Double Eagle Aviation.

The Great Paper Airplane Project started in 2011 as a way to get kids interested in aviation and aerospace engineering through a childhood pastime.

"Our objective is just to inspire kids to get interested in aviation," said Mary Emich, director of marketing, sales and visitor services at the museum.

Emich said that the number of commercial airplanes is expected to grow fivefold in the next 20 years, which could mean five times the current demand for people in the aviation field.

"We want to continue growth and enthusiasm," Emich said.

Registered contestants will be admitted free to the event, but standard Pima Air & Space Museum entrance fees apply to all other guests.


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