No Fly Zone
We’ve all had it happen. That brilliantly folded thing of beauty just won’t, just can’t, just refuses to fly more than a few feet. It stalls, it crashes, it rolls left, it rolls right, or simply twirls in a death spiral toward the floor. Maybe you’re not as good at this paper pilot stuff as you think?
You rushed the pre-flight check, and who hasn’t? Now that the worst has happened, we can get down to the details. Start at the back of the plane. Trailing edges flat or slightly up? Check. Fuselage straight and true? Check. Winglets vertical? Check. Dihedral? Check. Moving forward we note overall symmetry. Wings match? Check. Wing thickness the same? Check.
Moving on to the throw. Do the wings warp when I hold the plane? No.
Any of these questions you can answer by adjusting, you will, of course, fix. And then, a second try with a more gentle toss. Okay, it’s going straight, but still nosing over a bit. Add some up elevator—just a tiny bit. Try again. Oooo, almost smooth and level, only it was veering left just a bit. Add some right rudder, tweak in a tad more up elevator, and throw number four is—shanked into the wall. C’mon, you’re better than that. Get to the middle of the room.
Throw number five is gliding; really gliding. Maybe you are as good at this pilot stuff as you think you are. A couple more throws to confirm this plane is dialed in before an outdoor test. Will the wind have its way with the plane and dash it to the ground? Will it catch an updraft and fly away for good?
With paper airplanes, sometimes when you love it, you don’t set it free. You bring it back inside and scrupulously document what the heck you did. And then, you try to do it again. Because you definitely are just that good with this paper airplane stuff.