Paper Airplane History

The history of paper airplanes probably goes back to the first pages of papyrus which were thrown at the trash can. The first flying devices to use paper were kites in China about 2000 years ago. Early hot air balloons, such as the first balloons made by the Montgofier Brothers in France in the late 1700's, also used paper in their construction. Their early model balloons were all paper, and their first human-carrying balloons of 1783 were cloth lined with paper.

The origin of paper airplanes is somewhat a mystery. The earliest reference to paper airplanes I know is that Jack Northrop used paper airplanes in the 1930's to help in his ideas for flying wing airplanes. In a sense, those paper airplanes helped shape a corporation and lead to the B-2 stealth bomber. I have also had email from people who remembered making paper airplanes in their youth 60 years ago. Apparently paper airplanes were common then, so paper airplanes could likely have even inspired the Wright Brothers.

******************************************************
I believe that I can extend your history of paper airplanes back to at
least 1908-1909.  I have in my collection photocopies of some articles
from Aero magazine that indicate that paper models were a common
technique for exploring aerodynamics.
---Arie C. Koelewyn
******************************************************
I bought a used paper airplane book from the 60's.  It quoted some
guy saying that in 1918 he was sick and he would fly paper airplanes out
of the hospital's window.  The guy's name was H. G. G. Herklots.  I
thought that you might want to put that on your airplane history page.

                    -Willy Logan
******************************************************
I am 66 years old and remember very well a series of paper model warplanes
which were distributed by General Mills, Inc., in connection with the Monday
through Friday radio serial adventure program, "Jack Armstrong, All-American
Boy".  The planes were offered in 1944, two at a time, for two Wheaties
cereal box tops and 5 cents.  The first two planes to be issued were the
Curtis P-40 "Flying Tiger" and the Japanese "Zero".  The next two were the
British "Spitfire" and the German "Focke-Wulf".  These planes were
constructed by cutting the planes out from heavy paper stock with scissors and
rolling the fuselage around and gluing to make a 3-D body.  The wings,
elevators and rudder were glued on and a penny was used to add weight to the
front of the plane to place the center of gravity over the wings.

I believe a total of fourteen planes were produced.  I used to buy as many as
I could and build them for other kids, selling them for fifteen cents to
twenty-five cents apiece.  I still have one complete set of fourteen uncut
model planes which I planned to let my grandsons play with, but I have only
daughters and granddaughters, and they have not shown any interest in them.
I wonder if any other folks out there have similar collections.

Best regards,
BobCIH@aol.com
******************************************************
If anyone has any other information, please let me know!

Back to home page