Live Blogging the Launch

March 21, 2012

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Sorry for the delay. I know it’s been over four hours since I last updated. Here’s the deal.

This morning, our plane buckled under its own weight. That was the delay. Art and the team had to take it back into the hangar and reinforce the entire structure. So when, several hours later, we once again saw the plane emerge onto the runway, we could only watch. And hope.

And then it flew. The Eagle flew!

After it was lifted off the ground by its nose, our giant paper airplane rose and rose until it began swaying pretty heavily in the wind (a product of our having to delay the launch until the evening instead the calmer morning). Aaron, our helicopter pilot then gave the order to cut the plane loose from the cable when it began to pull the chopper itself in a strong gust. But after it was released, for several shining moments, our huge, beautiful, silly, hubristic 45-foot paper airplane soared.

Here’s the best photo I could manage so soon in the rush following the flight, and a photo of the reaction behind me at the time. But I promise we’ll get more details, photos plus some pretty great video footage (which I’m sorry to say my computer can’t handle) as soon as we can. For now, just know that somehow, against all odds, a giant paper airplane flew across the Arizona sky tonight.

- – -


The first time I tried passionfruit Skittles I thought they were disgusting. And now they’re all I eat, between my midmorning coffeebeans and wheatgrass lunch. Why do I mention this? Because the first time you try anything is really hard. And such is the case with flying a paper airplane the size of a house. After difficulties pulling it up into the air, Art and his team are forging ahead with new plans of attack. They’re reinforcing the “fuselage” area and rethinking the way the plane will be towed into the air. So, the plan now is to make these adjustments and get Arturo’s Desert Eagle into the air before sunset.

In the meantime, I’ve had some downtime to study up on the proper use of alliteration in blog posts. And Kirby Chambliss, who has generously donated his property for this project, had some time to jump in his stunt plane and perform some amazing tricks high above base camp. Those of us on the ground were treated to a dazzling and death-defying display of disdain for the direction of down. So… you could say we both did something impressive.

Back at you soon.

- – -


Frustrating. There have been a series of delays in hoisting the plane up in the air. The problem now lies not with the plane’s ability to fly, but in our ability to get it up in the air. But Art the Silent Panther-Assassin (thank you, D-Pez) is on the case, creating fixes as we wait in the hot sun. More soon…

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The view of the plane being hoisted up (a very delicate process), as seen through the luscious dreads of Keith from our Build Team.

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Yvonne gives some stirring opening remarks.

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Arturo poses by his plane as the nose art is revealed. Introducing ARTURO’S DESERT EAGLE™ (trademark not really necessary, but included for emphasis). Now, what other kid gets his name on a plane? Let alone a one-of-a-kind giant paper plane?

Art on the plane was created by nose art specialist Gary Velasco from Our big thanks to Gary!

- – -


The plane is rolled out of the tent and onto the runway! Wow, it looks great. And MASSIVE.

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Now that’s a huge helicopter Arturo and Matt are leaping out of. Yowza. (Also, if you’ve ever heard of “Riptide”, the TV show this helicopter was once a part of, that makes one of us.)

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Pre-flight interview with our very own Count Von Galen. The bandana looks smashing!

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Art working out the drag chute issues (see previous post for more on this) for the release of the plane from the tow cable. Won’t be long now…

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Our director/camera operator/pilot Matt sporting his “good luck” tee.

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A coffee company and a fast food joint who are not sponsors of our early morning (but they should be).

- – -


So we finally found a wireless connection!

We’ve been out here in the middle of the Arizona desert since before sunrise (many of us have been here all night), getting ready to launch our 45-foot paper airplane (fully built, as shown above)!

Check back in often, as I’ll be giving updates throughout the day…


  • Matt Stacy

    Can’t wait to see what happens!

  • I

    This is so exciting!

  • Brianna

    This is so great! Can’t wait to see what happens.

  • Genius

    Wishing you all success with the launch! :-)

  • Per

    i love this.

  • Max

    Good luck!

  • Michael Gray

    Will there be any video coverage?

    • admin

      Hi Michael,

      Yes, we are documenting the whole day on video. We will have a chase plane up in the sky shooting the historic flight. Keep tuning into the site and we will keep you updated with stills.

      Pima Air & Space Museum

  • Kelly

    Very exciting! I can’t wait to hear how the plane did. Waiting for updates :)

  • D-Pez

    I’m burning up with anticipation. Art the panther is going to fly this plane to the sun and back. People are going scream with delight and fear. Politicians are going to take credit for the success. And Art the panther will continue to be the silent assassin of flight.

  • Hoff

    So when is this historic event going to happen, the time of day??

  • Jenny

    Please give us an update about the time this will happen

    • admin

      Hi Jenny,

      We are working on making some final tweaks to the 45 ft. paper airplane to ensure structural integrity. Please check back in about an hour and we should have more details regarding the flight time.

      Pima Air & Space Museum

  • Jenny

    Thank you :)

  • C Lavery

    Where is your location? I would love to be able to watch this live.

    • admin

      Hi C,

      Due to safety concerns, there is no public access to our location. We hope you will continue to tune in to get updates on the flight. We will have a final video of the flight as well up soon for you to view.

      Thank you,
      Pima Air & Space Museum

  • Bill

    WOW! It looks great! It was a lot of fun being there during the competition and am excited to see the flight!

  • Audrey Morris

    Got your messages Yvonne, alerting some of the family. We’ll be watching—–maybe it will fly all the way to Virginia. Mom

  • april

    Enjoying the live blogging!!

  • jotellisf

    This is awesome! Very exciting. Snapshots are fantastic… what kind of camera are you using?

  • lindsey wood

    This looks AMAZING! Can’t wait to see what happens!!!

  • Ardon Academy For Girls

    Wishing you much success!!!

    • admin

      Thank you!

  • Cal

    Hmm…Put a bird on it? Oh you did.

  • D-Pez

    What’s the hold up? Lift that mother into space and let her go. I can’t wait much longer. Or did whitey shut you down?

    • admin

      Hi D-Pez,

      We are working on improving the structural integrity of the fuselage. The hope is to fly in a couple hours.

      Thank you,
      Pima Air & Space Museum

  • Diane Hofstadter

    Good luck – it certainly is a great looking plane and I like the artwork too!

  • Jose

    What a fantastic day for Arturo (who helped me fly my paper airplane better at the competition)! I hope the plane gets up and then soars like eagle! Also, Arturo, I saw you on TV and practiced making a paper airplane like yours.

  • Aidan

    I bet it will be cool! I would love to interview you for Bear Essential News! I just became a reporter.

    • admin

      Hi Aidan,

      We’d love to chat with you. Our email address is We can coordinate the interview then.

      Look forward to hearing from you!

      Pima Air & Space Museum

  • Max

    This is the excitement and science of making an idea into a real-world project, lots of tweaking and experimenting need to take place. Remember NASA doesn’t always fly on time either. Sending you all inspiration.

  • Max

    What’s up?

  • Amy

    Is there any news on the launch? Will it be today?

  • jouse

    when are you planning to launch it

  • Valerio Richards

    Make us dreeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaammmm!!

  • Max

    Thanks for the update. Great picture! And congrats!

    • admin

      Thanks Max!

  • Amy

    Well that sucks there was no word as to when it was going to be launched we waited and waited then we hear it was over that sucks maybe you will do it again soon and let everyone know when it is going to be launched so others can watch. My kids were disappointed they didn’t get to see it:(

    • admin

      Hi Amy,

      We are sorry, but due to safety concerns, there was no public access to our location. We do appreciate your interest in the Great Paper Airplane Project and hope you will tune in for more videos and updates to this site soon.

      Thank you,
      Pima Air & Space Museum

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  • Quentin Fastic

    Awesome Blog

    • admin

      Thanks Quentin!

  • Brian W

    No video yet? When?

    • admin

      Hi Brian,

      We posted the first video today. As more footage comes in we will continue to add new videos.

      Pima Air & Space Museum

  • D-Pez

    Ah yeeeeeeaaaah! The Silent Assassin of Flight strikes again. Yall are lucky he didnt have to get fierce on anybody. That would hav been news worthy. All the same Papa panther is proud. A paper airplane never looked so majestic. Like a injured swan flying for the horizon.

  • Brian Murray

    some things are just a waste of time. This is one of them. the time, resources, energy can be utlized elsewhere….Time to grow up boys…

  • Jeff

    One question.. what kind of paper was used in the construction?

  • Sandy Escoe

    Great read! Thanks!

  • cal

    Sorry, Brian Murray, this one was for the kids. They will grow up eventually, and hopefully experiences like this will be inspiring.

  • Sara J

    Where’s the video? I’m not finding any link to access it.

  • Maggie

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      Pima Air & Space Museum

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  • Laurent

    I discovered this great adventure on the screens of the Montreal metro ! What a foolish and amazing idea, I love it !
    I would like to know at which altitude was the plane droped and on which distance did it ride ?
    And how long did it take from the first draws to this flight ?
    Will you perform more rides ?

    • admin

      Thanks for your interest in the Great Paper Airplane Project Laurnet!

      The plane was 45ft long with a wingspan of 24ft. We dropped at an altitude of 2,703 ft. We were hoping to go higher, but wind played a factor in how high we were able to drop from safety. Arturo’s desert eagle flew .93 miles at a top speed of 98 MPH.

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    • admin

      Hi Lonny,

      We try to update as much as possible. There will be another video posted in the next couple of weeks, so please check back soon to watch.

      Pima Air & Space Museum

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  • 30 DAYS
  • 7 HOURS
  • 53 MIN
  • 23 SEC






Fly-Off may only be entered in or from the 50 United States and the District of Columbia and entries originating from any other jurisdiction are not eligible for entry. This Fly-Off is governed exclusively by the laws of the United States. You are not authorized to participate in the Fly-Off if you are not located within the United States.

1. How to Enter. To enter the Fly-Off, the parent or legal guardian of an entrant must pre-register for the Fly-Off on behalf of their child by going to between November 15, 2014 – January 30, 2015 and filling out an online pre-registration form including the parent’s or legal guardian’s name, physical address, and email address, and the full name and date of birth of their child. On the day of the Fly-Off, entrants must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian who must sign a media release as well as an agreement consenting to the terms of these Official Rules of the Fly-Off. Only the first 350 entrants who pre-register for the Fly-Off will be eligible to enter. Limit 350 entrants. All entry information and paper airplanes shall be collectively referred to herein as the “Submissions” or each as a “Submission.” Sponsor reserves the right to cancel or modify this Fly-Off in the event an insufficient number of Submissions are received.

The Fly-Off will be held on February 7, 2015. On the Fly-Off day, report to the Pima Air & Space Museum at the designated time and receive your flight packet consisting of a nametag and flight log, one museum admission ticket for each family member of the entrant (up to four tickets total per entrant), an itinerary for the Fly-Off, and paper airplane materials. Once an entrant receives his/her flight packet, the entrant can proceed to the build area and begin to construct a paper airplane according to the specifications set forth in Section 4.

By entering, each entrant warrants and represents the following with respect to their Submission: (a) entrant is the sole and exclusive owner of the Submission; (b) the Submission is entrant’s own creation; and (c) the Submission will not infringe on any rights of any third parties.

Limit one (1) entry per person. All entries, including Submissions, become the sole and exclusive property of the Sponsor and receipt of entries will not be acknowledged or returned. Sponsor is not responsible for lost, late, illegible, stolen, incomplete, invalid, unintelligible, or misdirected entries, which will be disqualified, or for problems of any kind whether mechanical, human or electronic. Only fully completed entry forms are eligible. Proof of submission will not be deemed to be proof of receipt by Sponsor.

2. Start/End Dates. The Fly-Off begins at 10:00 AM MT on 2/7/15 and ends roughly at 4:00 PM MT on 2/7/15 (the “Fly-Off Period”).

3. Eligibility. Participation open only to legal residents of the fifty United States or the District of Columbia who are between 6 and 14 years of age as of date of entry and who have a parent or legal guardian present at the Pima Air & Space Museum during the Fly-Off Period. Void outside of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia, and where prohibited, taxed or restricted by law. Employees, officers, directors, and volunteers of The Arizona Aerospace Foundation, d/b/a the Pima Air & Space Museum and the Titan Missile Museum (“Sponsor”) and its parent companies, subsidiaries, affiliates, partners, dealers, advertising and promotion agencies, manufacturers or distributors of Fly-Off materials and their immediate families (parents, children, siblings, spouse) or members of the same household (whether related or not) of such employees/officers/directors/volunteers are not eligible to enter. You are not authorized to participate in the Fly-Off if you are not located within the United States or the District of Columbia. All federal, state and local laws and regulations apply.

4. Paper Airplane Construction. The flight packet will contain all of the materials required to construct a paper airplane. In addition to the materials included in the flight packet, Sponsor will supply basic folding techniques for the entrants to reference. Entrants are permitted to submit paper airplanes constructed prior to the start date of the Fly-Off, provided that they otherwise comply with the requirements of these Official Rules.

All paper airplanes must meet the following criteria: Airplanes must be constructed out of a single 8 ½ x 11 sheet of paper that is 20lb bond weight (may also be referred to as 50lb text weight). The paper can undergo any amount of folding and cutting or tearing, but no tape, paperclips, staples, glue or any other added materials may be included. The airplane can be personalized by using either white or colored paper (at the required weight). The only additional materials permitted are the use of crayons, markers, pencils and pens. Sponsor acknowledges that a certain level of parent participation may be required for the younger entrants. Such parent involvement must be limited to vocal coaching and all airplane construction must be completed by the entrant.

5. Competition and Judging.There will be a designated practice area for entrants to test their airplanes prior to competition. All practice tosses must happen in this area. Prior to each contest flight, each paper airplane will be examined by Sponsor or its representative to ensure that it conforms to the construction and material guidelines for the Fly-Off. Airplanes that do not conform will be disqualified from the Fly-Off.

Round One: Approximately six (6) entrants will compete at a time according to their designated flight number and age bracket (6-8 years of age, 9-11 years of age, and 12-14 years of age). There will be six (6) spotters/recorders and recorders on the perimeter of the test range. Each spotter will be assigned to a designated entrant. Each entrant will have one (1) opportunity to launch their paper airplane as far as they can. When the airplane from the spotter’s designated entrant makes first contact with the ground, the spotter will mark that spot and report to the designated recorder. Any additional skidding that occurs after the point of touch down will not be counted as additional distance. The top two entrants from each flight number whose airplane traveled the greatest distance in the air will be declared the flight winners. They will be directed to the pre-test range to be assigned a flight number for Round Two. Round One winners will be permitted to visit the build area to make any necessary tweaks/repairs to their airplane prior to the Round Two competition.

Round Two: Approximately six (6) entrants will compete at a time according to their designated flight number and age bracket. Each entrant will have one (1) opportunity to launch their paper airplane as far as they can. When the airplane from the spotter’s designated entrant makes first contact with the ground, the spotter will mark that spot and report to the designated recorder. Any additional skidding that occurs after the point of touch down will not be counted as additional distance. The entrant from each flight number whose airplane traveled the greatest distance in the air will be declared the flight winner. The entrant will be directed to the pre-test range to be assigned a flight number for Round Three. Round Two winners will be permitted to visit the build area to make any necessary tweaks/repairs to their airplane prior to the Round Three competition.

Round Three: Approximately six (6) entrants will compete at a time according to their designated flight number and age bracket. Each entrant will have one (1) opportunity to launch their paper airplane as far as they can. When the airplane from the spotter’s designated entrant makes first contact with the ground, the spotter will mark that spot and report to the designated recorder. Any additional skidding that occurs after the point of touch down will not be counted as additional distance. The entrant from each flight number whose airplane traveled the greatest distance in the air will be declared the flight winner. The entrant will be directed to the pre-test range to be assigned a flight number for Round Four. Round Three winners will be permitted to visit the build area to make any necessary tweaks/repairs to their airplane prior to the Round Four competition.

Round Four: Approximately six (6) entrants will compete at a time according to their designated flight number and age bracket. Each entrant will have one (1) opportunity to launch their paper airplane as far as they can. When the airplane from the spotter’s designated entrant makes first contact with the ground, the spotter will mark that spot and report to the designated recorder. Any additional skidding that occurs after the point of touch down will not be counted as additional distance. The entrant from each flight number whose airplane traveled the greatest distance in the air will be declared the winner. Round Four winners will be permitted to visit the build area to make any necessary tweaks/repairs to their airplane prior to the Final Rounds competition.

This process will repeat until there is a grand prize winner in each age group (6-8, 9-11, and 12-14). The airplane that travels the greatest distance in the final flight for each age bracket will be deemed the grand prize winner for that age bracket.

In any round, should a paper airplane have an indirect flight pattern and enter another airplane’s air space resulting in a mid-air collision, the place that both airplanes first touch on the ground will be considered as the official distance.

6. Prizes. One (1) grand prize winner in each age bracket will receive a 30-minute experience Introduction to Flight. The name of the grand prize winner from each age bracket will have their name engraved on a perpetual trophy that will be displayed at the Pima Air & Space Museum.

Total approximate retail value of each grand prize: $300. Prizes are non-transferable. No substitutions or cash redemptions. In the case of unavailability of any prize, Sponsor reserves the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value. All taxes and unspecified expenses are the responsibility of winners.

7. Notification. Winners will be notified at the end of each competition round. Each grand prize winner’s parent or legal guardian will be required to sign and return, where legal, a Declaration of Eligibility, Liability/Publicity Release and/or rights transfer document on the day of the Fly-Off at the Pima Air & Space Museum. If any winner cannot be contacted within thirty (30) minutes of first notification, if any prize or prize notification is returned as undeliverable, if any winner rejects his/her prize or in the event of noncompliance with these Fly-Off rules and requirements, such prize will be forfeited and may be awarded to the Submission with the next highest score. Upon prize forfeiture, no compensation will be given.

8. Conditions. Submissions may be cut, edited, reformatted, rearranged, combined with other materials and/or otherwise modified, in Sponsor’s sole and absolute discretion. Any and all federal, state and local taxes are the sole responsibility of the winners. Participation in Fly-Off and/or acceptance of prize constitutes entrants’ and winner’s permission for Sponsor to use his/her name, address (city and state), likeness, photograph, picture, portrait, voice, biographical information, Submission and/or any statements made by each winner regarding the Fly-Off or Sponsor for advertising and promotional purposes without notice or additional compensation, except where prohibited by law. By participating, entrants and winner agree to release and hold harmless Sponsor, its partners and promotion and advertising agencies and each of their respective parent companies, subsidiaries, affiliates, partners, representatives, agents, successors, assigns, employees, officers and directors (collectively, the “Released Entities”), from any and all liability, for loss, harm, damage, injury, cost or expense whatsoever including without limitation, property damage, personal injury and/or death which may occur in connection with, preparation for, travel to, or participation in the Fly-Off, or possession, acceptance and/or use or misuse of prize or participation in any Fly-Off-related activity and for any claims based on publicity rights, defamation, invasion of privacy, copyright infringement, trademark infringement or any other intellectual property-related cause of action. Entrants who do not comply with these Official Rules, or attempt to interfere with this Fly-Off in any way shall be disqualified. Sponsor is not responsible if the Fly-Off cannot take place or if any prize cannot be awarded due to travel cancellations, delays or interruptions due to acts of God, acts of war, natural disasters, weather or acts of terrorism.

9. Additional Terms. Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to disqualify any paper airplane that it deems inappropriate for any reason. Any attempted form of entry other than as set forth in Section 1 above is prohibited. The Released Entities are not responsible for technical, hardware, software, telephone or other communications malfunctions, errors or failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connections, web site, Internet, or ISP availability, unauthorized human intervention, traffic congestion, incomplete or inaccurate capture of entry information (regardless of cause) or failed, incomplete, garbled, jumbled or delayed computer transmissions which may limit one’s ability to enter the Fly-Off, including any injury or damage to participant’s or any other person’s computer relating to or resulting from participating in this Fly-Off or downloading any materials in this Fly-Off. Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify, extend or suspend this Fly-Off should (in its sole discretion) virus, bugs, non-authorized human intervention, fraud or other causes beyond its control corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness or proper conduct of the Fly-Off. In such case, Sponsor may select the winners from all eligible entries received prior to and/or after (if appropriate) the action taken by Sponsor. Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to disqualify any individual it finds, in its sole discretion, to be tampering with the entry process or the operation of the Fly-Off or web site. Sponsor may prohibit an entrant from participating in the Fly-Off or winning a prize if, in its sole discretion, it determines that said entrant is attempting to undermine the legitimate operation of the Fly-Off by cheating, hacking, deception, or other unfair playing practices (including the use of automated quick entry programs) or intending to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other entrants or Sponsor representatives.



11. Disputes; Governing Law. The parties waive all rights to trial in any action or proceeding instituted in connection with these Official Rules, including, without limitation, the Fly-Off. Any controversy or claim arising out of or relating to these Official Rules and/or the Fly-Off shall be settled by binding arbitration in accordance with the commercial arbitration rules of the American Arbitration Association. Any such controversy or claim shall be arbitrated on an individual basis, and shall not be consolidated in any arbitration with any claim or controversy of any other party. The arbitration shall be conducted in the State of Arizona, City of Tucson.

THESE OFFICIAL RULES AND THE INTERPRETATION OF ITS TERMS SHALL BE GOVERNED BY AND CONSTRUED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE LAWS OF THE STATE OF ARIZONA WITHOUT REGARD TO ITS CONFLICTS OF LAWS RULES. For any matters which are not subject to arbitration as set forth in these Official Rules and/or in connection with the entering of any judgment on an arbitration award in connection with these Official Rules and/or the Fly-Off, the parties irrevocably submit and consent to the exclusive jurisdiction and venue of the state and federal courts located in or closest to the County of Pima in the State of Arizona. The parties agree not to raise the defense of forum non conveniens.

12. Use of Data. Sponsor will be collecting personal data about entrants online and offline, in accordance with its privacy policy. Please review the Sponsor’s privacy policy at By participating in the Fly-Off, entrants hereby agree to Sponsor’s collection and usage of their personal information and acknowledge that they have read and accepted Sponsor’s privacy policy.

13. List of Winners. To obtain a list of winners, send an email by April 30, 2015 to:

14. Sponsor. The Arizona Aerospace Foundation, d/b/a the Pima Air and Space Museum and the Titan Missile Museum, 6000 E. Valencia Rd., Tucson, Arizona 85756.