02 February 2012

Now Into Folding Paper Airplanes, Thank You Professor Weinstein

There are so many things one might do with one’s short time here on the surface of planet Earth. One might save the world, or a small piece of it, or just for fun, one might fold paper airplanes.

If one wanted to fold paper airplanes, one might benefit from expert assistance. Maybe a PhD expert. Yes, that’s it – a professor of molecular genetics at Ohio State University who also is an experienced pilot and longtime origami enthusiast. Origami – you know – the art of folding squares of paper into magical things such as cranes or flowers, stars, dragons, boxes, roses, hearts, even Yoda.

The professor has arrived. He is here to help you fold paper that flies, soars, dips and looks good doing it.

The successful California publisher in Fort Bragg, Cypress House, later this year will present On Folded Wings, Paper Airplanes for All Ages, written by molecular geneticist Dr. Michael Weinstein, with aircraft illustrations by Mike Dietz.

You can do this. You can create the Diamondhead Staggerwing.

“An antique aircraft, the Beech Staggerwing is one of the most elegant ever built,” professor Weinstein writes, before entering nerdland: “This canard* is similar, in that the canard wing is lower and forward of the main wing.”

Can this book actually be For All Ages? I doubt my new granddaughter can do canard wings or inside reverse folds yet.

Before I read this book and learned about canard wings, measuring the speed of the River Seine, Smart Dart stun planes, Mandelbrot sets, Bird-base fighters and more, I already knew how to make one paper airplane. Someone showed me on a slow day in algebra class. I’ve flown my paper jet into teachers’ hair-do’s. One of my best efforts once came to rest stuck between the teacher’s sock and the Achilles notch in his sneaker.

Most often, however, my personal jet launched with a quick baseball toss, then lurched to the floor with a pitiful dent in its binder paper nose.

With the professor’s book I would have learned something about aerodynamics. I could have benefited from centuries of research on why things fly or don’t. I could have built a tail-dragger, a Gremlin, a Triangulon, or an Enormously Abstract Heron. I could have hit my teachers more often.

On Folded Wings shows you how to fly pieces of paper. But that’s not all. It’s a short introduction to the science of flight, written light-heartedly but seriously, too. Clear schematic drawings in full color take you step by step into the sky, or at least the ceiling.

You will learn pitch, roll, yaw and basic folds. Master these folds, build your airplane. All but one plan calls for a single piece of paper (the Twin Star, being a twin, takes two pieces of paper). You will learn about air speed, and why piston powered planes need overhauls. You will find out what makes an airplane go fast (“The answer is actually a bit more complex than you might think.”)

This book is a gem, highly recommended as an educational tool and as plain fun and games.

Right now I’m trying a radical new design – folding the entire book into the world’s heaviest paper airplane. 


On Folded Wings, Paper Airplanes for All Ages by Michael Weinstein. Cypress House paperback $16.95. ISBN 9781879384798. Publication date April, 2012.

Cypress House on the web

And you can find them on Facebook as well... 

And another one on Maui!

*Canard: (1) duck (2) a false report; rumour or hoax (3) an aircraft in which the tailplane is mounted in front of the wing. Tailplane: Also called (esp US): horizontal stabilizer  a small horizontal wing at the tail of an aircraft to provide longitudinal stability. (From the World English Dictionary)

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