US team breaks Guinness World Record for highest paper airplane flight

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A view of Earth captured from the paper airplane at 96,563 feet (Photo: 1st Lt Gary Brown)

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For most people, paper airplanes are something you launched across school classrooms as a kid. A team of US Air Force auxiliary volunteers, however, has been taking it far more seriously. The team launched a paper airplane from a high-altitude balloon at 96,563 ft (29,432 m), taking the world record in the process.

In a press release on its website, the US Fox Valley Composite Squadron, Illinois Wing, Civil Air Patrol, reports that the paper airplane was launched from Kankakee, Illinois, and landed 82 miles (132 km) away, Southwest of Rochester, Indiana. The flight took just under 2 hours and 7 minutes.

The paper airplane, designed by the cadets themselves, is said to have a traditional shape and is made out of paper board. It is 30 inches (76 cm) long with a wingspan of 14.5 in (36.8 cm). It weighs in at 424 g (15 oz). The plane was fitted with a GPS tracking system, temperature sensors, barometric pressure sensor, flight computer, batteries, solar panel and HD video camera for recording its flight.

In order to launch the plane, it was attached to a large helium balloon that carried it up to altitude before bursting. When the balloon burst, the plane's flight computer cut itself away in order to begin its descent.

Assuming the record is verified by Guinness, the Fox Valley Composite Squadron will claim the title from the UK-based PARIS team and its Vulture 1 paper airplane. The PARIS team set the existing record in October 2010, having met and organized its project through tech blog The Register, which has reported the news and hinted that the PARIS team may seek to reclaim the title.

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