© Brian Hall / Red Bull Content Pool
Imagination aviation: Red Bull gathers the world's best paper plane flyers
As the world's best paper plane aviators prepare to compete on the world stage, get to know the USA winners who dominated their respective categories.
Red Bull has been giving athletes and regular people alike wiiings for quite some time. But did you know the brand also gives aviation enthusiasts Paper Wings and the chance to become the world’s top paper airplane pilot?
Red Bull Paper Wings, the world’s largest paper airplane contest, is a simple and intentional competition that requires no fuel or engines, just heightened innovation. With only a single piece of A4 paper, contestants must make their creation fly as long, as far, or as artistically as possible through the air to have a shot at being crowned the world champ.
Red Bull Paper Wings recognizes three disciplines of paper flight: Distance, Airtime, and Aerobatics. The Aerobatics division focuses on which paper wonder can perform the most brilliant aerobatic tricks, among other criteria. Pilots weren’t required to travel to compete in this division and instead showcased their mastery on TikTok. Contestants submitted their entries by using the hashtags: #redbullpaperwings, #USA, #contest, and by tagging @redbull.
Contestants were judged on the construction of the plane, the artistry of the plane’s performance, and the creativity of their flight performance video. Whoever received the most votes from the national judging panel will be riding their originality to the world final.
On the other hand, Distance and Airtime winners from their respective local qualifier events traveled to one of three U.S. cities for Nationals. To succeed in Distance, pilots had to craft a plane that traveled farther than their opponents. Airtime experts had to have elite aerodynamic understanding, those who advanced folded their paper planes in all the right places to achieve the longest flight time.
The tournament has taken off again in 2022 and seven Paper Wings Finalists have jetted off to Salzburg, Austria to compete for the World Championship Title on May 13th and 14th. The champions crowned for each category will not only be world-renowned but will also win an epic flight experience with the famous Flying Bulls, Red Bull's first-class crew of aviation experts.
Let’s meet the flight contenders — first up, the Aerobatics winner:
Meet Kyle Boyler, a graphic designer from Indianapolis, Indiana. Kyle’s been building paper airplanes for 18 years. With a website, Foldable Flight, offering templates on how to build the perfect paper airplanes, a published book, Foldable Flights Incredible Paper Airplanes, and a YouTube + TikTok presence hosting over 300,000 subscribers, this year’s Aerobatics winner could be considered a paper airplane prodigy.
Let’s keep this plane moving though, next up are our Distance and Airtime finalists.
On Wilbur Wright’s birthday (of the Wright Brothers), 42 paper flight enthusiasts gathered in Huntsville, Alabama, the Rocket City, and competed for a finalist spot. This is who soared in the Cotton State:
Hailing from Houston, Texas, and a member of Rice University, Andrew Murray took the Distance event to great lengths, cruising his paper jet 161.1 feet. As a Rice University track star, after an injury occurred during a race, Murray refocused his attention and found another way to take off running. Now he’s going to Salzburg.
Lord Moses Steele
Joining Andrew is his fellow Houston, Texas native, Lord Moses Steele. LMS of the University of Houston crafted a paper airplane that could hang in the heat of that heavy Alabama air for 11.41 seconds. (photography here)
Another stop for Nationals was Denver, Colorado. And a record was set in the Rockies as a distance participant earned the top score globally for Red Bull Paper Wings.
Meet Dillon Ruble. With 196.9 feet, Dillon designed a paper aircraft that went further than all his fellow competitors. And his distance sits just three meters behind the world record. But maybe most impressive of all? As an aerospace engineering major at Missouri S&T, the record-breaker is also an ultra-endurance athlete and ran an ultra-marathon the day before the Red Bull Paper Wings Nationals. Talk about going the distance.
Connor Felchle, a student at the University of North Dakota — John D. Odegard School of Aerospace, found a way to optimize the thin air in Denver. Connor’s craft hung around for 9.12 seconds. Our Airtime winner knows a thing or two about high altitudes.
It only seemed right that one of the locations for Nationals landed in Dayton, Ohio, the birthplace of flight and home to the Wright Brothers. Sunday, April 3rd, brought 29 eager pilots together to take the paper plane stage at the U.S. Air Force Museum.
Yu Chieh Chiu
Yu Chieh Chiu separated himself from the pack. The Ph.D. student from the University of Illinois won the Distance event with a plane that traveled 135 feet.
Chiu’s fellow finalist, Evin Cooper, secured the Airtime category with 14.06 seconds. The junior from Western Michigan University has a knack for hang time as Cooper’s airtime beat out the 2019 World Champion. He holds the second-longest airtime score globally for this year’s competition and is No. 1 in the U.S.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, we’re approaching our final destination, Hangar-7 in Salzburg, Austria — the intersection of aviation and culture. We ask that you stow away all luggage and tray tables, keep your seat belt buckled, and buckle up for the 2022 Red Bull Paper Wings World Championship.