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Published November 2nd, 2016
'Paper Airplane Guy' Soars Through Unique STEAM Demo at LL&LC
John Collins prepares his paper airplanes for flight. Photo Cathy Dausman

Imagine sitting in a lecture and actually being encouraged to fly paper airplanes.
That’s what happened during John Collins’ recent Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM) presentation at Lafayette Library and Learning Center. When it comes to paper airplanes, Collins, a.k.a. the Paper Airplane Guy, folds a dose of origami and a healthy swoosh of aerodynamics into every paper airplane design and presentation. The graceful arc of his gliders contrasted with his rapid-fire delivery on just how to fold the perfect plane.
He didn’t waste precious time building the planes — he gets them flying. “He came in an hour ahead of the presentation to test the room’s air conditioning for drafts,” said LLLC youth services librarian Dena Hollowood, who marveled at Collins’ ability to coax a fist-sized paper glider to fly completely around the room by holding a book inches beneath its wings.
It was difficult to tell just who had more fun at the demo — the school-aged children who couldn’t wait to fly their sometimes unfinished folded planes, or the fleet of parents determined to follow the directions and master the art of folding better and faster.
Four years ago Collins tapped former Cal football player Joe Ayoob for his throwing arm; Ayoob helped Collins set a Guinness world record for distance throwing (226 feet, 10 inches) on a paper airplane Collins designed.
Collins says he’ll offer a $1,000 reward to anyone who breaks his record using his airplane design. Naturally, the presentation ended in a flurry of paper airplanes —the first volley released by Collins and second by the audience, big and little, who launched their planes in a friendly all-out aeronautical dogfight.
Aviation fans who missed Collins’ presentation can still learn about the magic of paper airplane design by going online to www.thepaperairplaneguy.com/. For more STEAM events at LLLC, visit www.lafayettelib.org/program-category/science-technology/.

Photo Cathy Dausman

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