Paper Airplane Reaches Record Altitude

Cadets from the Civil Air Patrol have achieved a new world record, bringing a paper airplane to the edge of space. The Fox Valley Composite Squadron of CAP's Illinois Wing launched a FVCS-5 near-space balloon on Saturday, towing a bright orange paper airplane from the Kankakee Airport (3KK) in Kankakee, Illinois, to 96,537 feet.

At that altitude, the helium weather balloon burst and the airplane started a very long glide. The record flight lasted nearly 2 hours and 7 minutes and the paper airplane eventually ended up in Rochester, Indiana.

The mission was a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) project for the CAP cadets, aged between 12 and 18 years, who constructed the traditionally shaped paper airplane, which is 30 inches long, has a 14.5-inch wingspan and weighs one pound. The CAP cadets now have a lot of data to analyze as the paper airplane was equipped with a GPS tracking system, temperature sensors, a barometric pressure sensor, a computer, batteries, a solar panel and an HD video camera.

While the record is unofficial until the required documentation has been submitted to Guinness, the flight shattered the previous Highest Paper Airplane Flight from a High Altitude Balloon record by nearly 7,000 feet.

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Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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