A team of young scientists has created what they believe to be the perfect paper plane.
It can fly more than 100ft (30m) and remain aloft for about 20 seconds.
Most importantly, it is easy to make. The plane, named Avenger, has been judged by academics to contain the ideal balance between complex aerodynamic principles and simplicity of design. Its looks may also have helped: the delta wing is reminiscent of Concorde.
It is being flight-tested today along with dozens of other models in a competition in Leeds University’s Great Hall organised by the budget airline Jet2.com. Adjudicators from the Guinness Book of World Records will be present but none of the models is likely to beat the world record for the longest time aloft of 27.6 seconds.The Great Hall in Leeds is only about 160ft long and 60ft high, meaning that any paper plane would hit the walls or ceiling long before breaking the record.
For the same reason, none of the planes will be able to match the record for the greatest distance flown, which is 207ft 4in achieved by Stephen Krieger in Washington in 2003.
The competition has to be held indoors because wind conditions would distort the results, but Andrew McIntosh, professor of thermodynamics at Leeds, said that the space will be adequate to demonstrate the virtues of the plane he helped to select as the best design.
He said: “It was outstanding because of the amount of thought which had gone into it. The secret of a really good paper plane is to minimise the drag and maximise the lift — it’s a case of getting the balance and shape right.”
He said that the winning design had borrowed several ideas from modern airliners, including tiny folded winglets and cambered wings. The plane was designed by Chris Saunders, 20, John Lewis, 19, and Jon Ward, 21, who are all engineering students at Leeds.
Mr Lewis said that the team had attempted to strike a balance between distance and time aloft. He said the nose was the feature that most often proved the downfall of paper planes. “People make the mistake of creating a long pointed nose which looks good but lacks stability,” he said.
The nose on the winning design is blunt and reinforced by several folds of paper. This not only results in straight and stable flight but also allows multiple launches.