back to article US paper spaceplane disintegrates at 107,000ft

The University of Southern Indiana's second attempt to claim PARIS's Guinness World Record for the highest launch of a paper plane ended dramatically on Saturday when the Geronimo aircraft (pictured below) disintegrated at around 107,000ft (32,612m). The Geronimo paper plane On 27 October, the uni's first pop at the record …


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  1. Thomas 4
    Black Helicopters

    Uh huh

    So that review of the high powered lasers on El Reg a couple of weeks back was *entirely* a coincidence.

  2. Monkey Bob

    Yeah right..

    One denial in the sub-head, one in the article.

    I suppose Lester has a cast-iron alibi too?

    <-- Safety googles

    1. jai

      Re: Yeah right..

      methinks he doth protest his innocence too much

  3. Z-Eden

    "El Reg accused of lasering rivals"

    Its like the kebab wars all over again!

    What next? El-Reg altered Rise of the Machines controlled Playboy units invade and sabotage American Challengers - University block reduced to smoking rubble. Nearby digital toilet suspected!

    1. Z-Eden

      D'oh! Playboy should have said Playmobile. Stupid Freudian slips causing me to type rubbish!

  4. dotdavid

    "Was it a clean, intact, release of the paper plane? We don't know, because the memory had already filled on the cameras"

    Didn't they know roughly how long it would take to get to their desired height and make sure the video could be recorded for that amount of time?

    1. graeme leggett

      Does sound like an oversight. Insufficient camera memory for ascent, descent and a decent margin of error?

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Unless we know how long it takes to go up an additional 5-10 thousand feet, it's hard to say if this was a silly oversight.

        1. Steve Evans

          Accepted engineering practise would be to build in a safety margin.

          Given the weight difference between a 4gig and 32gig SD card is negligible, they're a bit daft not to go for the bigger card.... If they were already using the largest card available, increasing the shooting interval would have been a good idea.

          And why stop shooting when it reaches altitude? That misses all the "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGHHH!" shots on the way back down again!

    2. Zimmer

      Lack of memory or File Size?

      They may have planned that the camera had sufficient battery and memory card storage for the trip for HD video footage. However , they may have overlooked the small detail regarding the 4.3gig maximum single file size of FAT32.

      (I overlooked this last week when recording an event. 40-odd minutes at 640 res was enough to do the trick.. so if they went HD .......)

  5. IglooDude

    In any case, good luck to the Indiana pre-boffins on their next attempt.

    1. David Webb

      I'm thinking of El Reg teaming up with the guys from Top Gear for a spectacular paper plane throwing event. Think along the lines of the Robin Reliant Rocket, only instead of a Robin it's a massive paper airplane launched instead......

      Or the Japanese could beat us all, a quick call to the man on the ISS "would you mind throwing a paper airplane next time your EVA?"

      1. Oldfogey

        That's a Reliant Robin please - or actually a Reliant Regal if I remember correctly.

      2. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Paper Airplane Launched From ISS

        a quick call to the man on the ISS

        The big problem there will be the reentry speed. I'm genuinely curious whether a paper airplane could handle that, slowing down sufficiently from whatever drag there is at >100km altitude, before hitting more serious air density, or not.

        1. Vulch

          Re: Paper Airplane Launched From ISS

 has a wind tunnel test though it appears the planned release didn't happen...

        2. David Webb

          Re: Paper Airplane Launched From ISS

          @Stoneshop - does the paper airplane actually need to survive for the record to stand, or is the record simply the highest altitude launch of a paper airplane? The boffins whose paper plane just blew up could (I think) claim the record if they can prove that the paper airplane was released intact so just by releasing the plane from the ISS should be more than enough to hold the record.... pretty much forever and kill the patents on paper airplane technology that El Reg have.

          1. MacroRodent Silver badge

            Re: Paper Airplane Launched From ISS

            I don't think there is any point in the exercise unless the paper plane survives more or less intact, at least until it hits the ground (or a building, tree or something else more or less at the ground level). Planes that burn up in the stratosphere do not count.

            It would also be cheating to use governement-subsidised launch platforms...

            1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

              Re: Re: Paper Airplane Launched From ISS

              Apparently, Guinness only requires that the plane be released. We agree that it really should survive the descent.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Paper Airplane Launched From ISS

                Before Armstrong stepped onto the moon, would a cadaver strapped to a rocket that hit the moon have counted as first man on the moon?

              2. Matt Bryant Silver badge

                Re: Paper Airplane Launched From ISS

                Have to say that the Indiana plane doesn't look half as well designed or assembled as the Vulture's. The stabilisers in particular look weak and the irregular surface can't have done much for clean airflow. I have to suspect the Indiana team were more interested in achieving a clean launch and grabbing the record rather than producing a design that would glide and land successfully.

          2. Stoneshop Silver badge

            Re: Paper Airplane Launched From ISS

            I'd say that some effort has to be put into making the plane sufficiently robust that it could be expected to survive the descent if not the landing.

  6. Oldfogey

    No Playmonaut?

    How can they expect to get satisfactory results without the correct personnel on board?

  7. frank ly

    A missed opportunity

    Why didn't Felix Baumgartner take a paper aeroplane up with him, then throw it out at 128,000 feet?

    I realise that a manual PARIS release would not count for the record attempt, but valuable data on low pressure flight characteristics, as well as giggles, could have been obtained.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A missed opportunity

      I'd like to see a "manual PARIS release" fnar fnar

      Actually ... I think I may have done

    2. The Serpent

      Re: A missed opportunity

      Because that would have made Mr. Bumgardner's jolly useful in some way

  8. M7S

    Congratulations to El Reg

    on fitting the flying shark inside the cloaked shed.

    Aerodynamics must have been a bitch though.

  9. aqk

    Indigent retiree

    It may be off-topic, but whatever happened to the dozens (or was it thousands?) of small paper airplanes that a Japanese researcher was planning to toss out of a satellite, or perhaps the ISS?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Definitely not cunning

    >The team had devised a cunning "bow string" release mechanism to unleash their spaceplane

    Can't be cunning unless it involves a turnip. Even better if it is shaped like a willy or alternatively a willy shaped like a turnip.

  11. Penguin

    Not to say I told you so...

    [Quote from last news article]

    > "I don’t think that is such a good idea, compound release aids are very smooth at releasing bow strings and can hold 80 lbs + of draw weight without issue but even with something like a Tru Ball – which uses ball bearings on the end of the jaws – I don’t think they will survive the environment without locking solid, I’d be very worried about the cold. Plus, for obvious reasons the pull of most release aids tends to be fairly light and the sear quite sensitive to knocks and buffeting."

    I do believe I have missed out on a lucrative career as a space plane / archery integration engineer. I’m now going to spend at least the next hour mixing the Schadenfreude feeling of smugness that I was right and sadness over the failure of some good ol’ fashion paper based boffinry.

    1. The First Dave

      Re: Not to say I told you so...

      If I remember correctly I too, commented that a bow release was not appropriate - something of the same basic nature would work if engineered for the the tiny load and high vibration, and balanced appropriatly, but a stock release could never be adjusted correctly.

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