It looks like a group of Fox Valley Civil Air Patrol cadets has set the Guinness World Record for the highest paper airplane flight ever.
Members of the Fox Valley Composite Squadron, the local unit of the Civil Air Patrol, made the “third time a charm” Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014, when they successfully sent a paper airplane soaring to a height of 96,563 feet — 18.3 miles straight up into the stratosphere.
The group is still awaiting for official confirmation from Guinness, but the record looks like a “lock.”
“Mission Control” for the paper airplane was at DuPage Airport, 32W581 Tower Road, West Chicago, while the launch site was Kankakee Airport, 1520 South State Route 115, Kankakee. It was the third time the group attempted the world record.
According to a FoxCap.org press release, the squadron embarked on the project as a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math experience for their cadets, youths ages 12-18, and made their second attempt last December. At that time, the squadron launched a custom-built 28-inch paper aircraft — carrying a payload that included two high-definition video cameras and a GPS tracking system — attached to a large, latex weather balloon.
But as the balloon ascended through an altitude of 85,153 feet, it experienced a premature burst, just shy of the current 89,591 foot record, sending their paper airplane gliding back to Earth earlier than planned. Further adding to this setback, during the paper airplane’s descent, the real-time GPS reporting system stopped updating its coordinates, making it next-to-impossible to pinpoint the landing site of the aircraft.
The group learned from its mistakes, and this time, the 96,563-foot peak height was achieved just northwest of Winamac, before the plane landed in a field west of Rochester, according to an article in the South Bend Tribune.
What’s cool is that the Illinois cadets are competing against a bigger, better-funded organization out of the United Kingdom. That group flew a plane to 113,000 feet but couldn’t claim the record because their plane went missing. Group members now promise they will try again.
So apparently, the paper plane space race is on.
Congratulations and good luck to the Fox Valley kids who are keeping that record right here at home.
About the Fox Valley Composite Squadron and Civil Air Patrol
Fox Valley Composite Squadron is located at DuPage Airport and is presently comprised of 41 cadets and 49 adult members, many of whom are from Kane County. These members volunteer their time and expertise toward emergency services, aerospace education and cadet programs. The squadron meets most Fridays at 7 p.m. at DuPage Airport and welcomes anyone interested in learning more about participation to attend a meeting.
Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with 60,000 members nationwide, operating a fleet of 550 aircraft. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs about 85 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 70 lives annually.
Its unpaid professionals also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 23,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet programs. Performing missions for America for over 70 years, CAP will receive the Congressional Gold Medal in 2015 in honor of the heroic efforts of its World War II veterans. CAP also participates in Wreaths Across America, an initiative to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices of U.S. military veterans. Visit http://www.gocivilairpatrol.com, http://www.capvolunteernow.com and http://www.capgoldmedal.com for more information.