How I Set The Guinness World Record (by Ken Blackburn)

Ken Blackburn

How I Set The Guinness World Record (by Ken Blackburn) Most people do not think they can set a world record. I know. I used to think that way, too. I started making paper airplanes just for the fun of it when I was about seven years old. Over the years, I improved my planes and eventually landed in the Guinness Book of World Records.
I have always loved airplane, and as a kid I made lots of model airplanes. I enjoyed flying them, but did not like the expense, the building time, and the eventual tree landing or crash. While browsing in the library one day, I discovered several books that showed me how to make some great paper airplanes.
I found the best-flying planes were the square-looking ones. I also learned that the real secret to making paper airplanes fly well is the small adjustments you make once you’ve flown the planes a few times. Soon I was flying lots of paper airplanes. They flew well, were quick to make, and were just about free.
I improved my planes by studying anything I could find about real airplanes, then making changes to my paper models. I even started coming up with my own plane designs. When I was 13 years old, I designed a new plane that flew really well. I could throw it very high outdoors and watch the wind carry it as it slowly glided to the ground.
It soon became my favourite plane, and I worked constantly to improve it. When I was 15 years old, my parents gave me a Guinness Book of World Records as a gift. I quickly turned to the section with aircraft records. Among the records was one for paper airplanes.
It stated the longest time a paper airplane had flown over a level surface was 15.0 seconds. I soon realized my paper airplanes would fly nearly that long, so I set a goal to try to break the world record. After a year of practice and fine-tuning, I gathered my friends, teachers, and a newspaper reporter for a record attempt. My plane flew for almost 25 seconds! I was elated until Guinness informed me the record had to be set indoors. Setting the record had to find a large enough building to do it in, and I also needed to practice and improve my throw.
At 20, I was studying to become an aerospace engineer at North Carolina State University. I told some friends about my “almost” record, and they decided they would help me try again. They timed my flights and arranged for a reporter to cover the event. After a month of practice, we gathered at my college is basketball arena for the attempt.
With a camera and a stopwatch ready, I threw my best plane as hard as I could into the upper reaches of the building, only to watch it glide into a cluster of speakers. My best plane, gone forever! One of my friends found a sheet of copier paper, and I quickly folded another plane. My third throw with this new plane was the best at 16.89 seconds-a new record! After a couple of nervous weeks, the letter I wanted arrived-Guinness approved the record! After five years, I had finally reached my goal.
Since then I have been able to reset my record twice-first at 17.2 seconds, then at 18.8 seconds, where the record stands today. I have had flights of up to 21 seconds in practice sessions, so maybe I’ll try again. I’d like to break the 20-second barrier.

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Originally posted 2012-04-08 20:36:42.

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