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It is widely believed and accepted that the history of paper airplanes finds it roots in ancient China, where paper was used to create the first flying kites. We’ve all heard of Origami, the art of folding pieces of paper into works of art. Well, as it turns out, while the name Origami is indeed of Japanese origin, the art of folding paper into objects originated in China. At some point in history the Japanese perfected the craft and thus the name Origami stuck and many people simply assume it’s the Japanese who invented it.
More directly related to us, here at Paper Plane Mafia, is the discussion of Aerogami, the art of folding paper into flying paper airplanes. Like Origami, we can trace the history of paper airplanes back to China. But nothing those early inventors came up with could compare to the amazing monster planes that people are building these days
Back to the history. Because of the nature of paper airplanes (they aren’t exactly durable) and the absence of earlier writings, its difficult to say exactly when the first planes were introduced. And its safe to say that we don’t have any examples of those earliest planes. Some say Leonardo Da Vinci was the first to create what we know as modern pieces of flying paper, giving way to the belief that what the earliest Chinese were making had no “direct” bearing to paper airplanes since they didn’t know about nor could they have used the principles of loft and wind resistance. Its most likely true that the early Chinese didn’t construct planes in the way we think of them today; most likely they were more reminiscent of birds in design and used only the force of thrust from throwing to “fly” rather than also using the resistance of wind, though they did master kites so again, we’re speculating.
Da Vinci was the first to recognize that air offered resistance to motion, and it wasn’t until 100 years later that Galileo claimed that velocity and air resistance are relative and proportional. So you can see, it wasn’t until much later that we began to first look at the scientific and mathematical implications of flight. Others had a hand in this early discovery, men like Christian Huygens and Isaac Newton.
However, credited with the first break-through in heavier-than-air flight is Sir George Cayley, who identified the four aerodynamic forces of flight: weight, lift, drag, and thrust. In 1799 he is alleged to have developed the closest ancestor to what we know of today as paper airplanes.
But where is the direct link to paper airplanes, you ask? We want you to come get HYER with us and join the paper plane mafia. Its a bit different than the wings you get as a first time flyer.