As a kid, we’ve enjoyed folding paper airplanes and having fun with them. However, a Malaysian has taken his passion for paper airplanes to the next level and even broke a world record with his very own designs.
Recently, Julian Chee Yie Jian has put Malaysia on the world map by earning the Guinness World Record (GWR) in the “Farthest flight by a paper aircraft” category in Daegu, Gyeongsangbuk-do in South Korea on 16 April 2022.
According to The Star, his paper plane design flew 77.134m, beating the previous record of 69.14m held by Americans John Collins and Joe Ayoob in 2012.
“It feels long overdue to put Malaysia in the GWR. It’s no moonshot but I represent Malaysia to the best of my ability. It’s definitely not going to be my last,” he said.
Speaking to the press, he admitted that he expects to break the world record. He said that back in 2019, he tested his design in an airplane hangar and it hit approximately 90% of the 2012 record distance on the first day.
“So I knew it was within reach with a bit more refinement,” he added.
Nonetheless, Chee, a design engineer with Airbus, is not alone. He had teamed up with his South Korean friends Kim Kyu Tae and Shin Moo Joon to work on the challenge. Each of them has an area to focus on, where Shin (a paper aircraft veteran) folded the plane, Kim was the thrower, and Chee was the designer.
Chee said that he initially did not continue the project because bogged down by school and work. However, Shin knew his design and introduced him to Kim with the plan to break the record.
The community in South Korea eventually noticed his design, so they decided to get into the record books quickly.
He also revealed that the secret ‘ingredient’ was to balance the mass of the paper airplane and the size of its wings. They went through months of research before designing the best plane design to achieve higher and further flights.
He added that even throwing the paper airplane is complex because thrusting it at high speeds can distort and damage the wings.
“The heavier the paper, the more inertia it possesses to keep it going, and the better the structure. The smaller the wings, the faster it flies too. For this application, the wings must be sized so they can still glide at a particular speed, or they’ll just hit the ground like a dart.” he explained.
Chee said his winning design was a smaller plane with more layers compacted into the wing, making it stiffer and less prone to distortion when compared to the 2012 record glider.
This has allowed his paper airplane to glide from a higher altitude instead of an aggressive swoop downwards to pick up more speed.
The former SMK Taman SEA said folding paper airplanes is a kid’s version of engineering and art. Chee also said that it required a lot of experiments and he had something to learn from every throw.
Next, Chee revealed that his future projects include designing, building and launching a small but efficient rocket into space. However, he is currently studying and writing the analysis code and learning how to manufacture rocket propellant.
It would take a few more years to realise his dream but we are confident that he will definitely make it!
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