History Of The Paper Airplane- The Lesser-Known Facts You Didn’t Know

A person standing in front of a cloudy blue sky

Since childhood, we all have been playing with a paper airplane. This has been our first toy that is affordable and very entertaining. It is still a favorite pastime among kids and adults. But do you know about its origin? Read this to know the history of the paper airplane.

Paper Airplane And Its Unknown History

A person flying through the air on a cloudy day

It All Started With The Origin Of The Paper

Before we talk about the history of the paper airplane, let’s know about the invention of paper. China is the first country to invent paper sheets; thus, it is assumed that they are the inventors of paper airplanes too.

Moreover, the skill of origami was also popular during 500 BCE in China. This has further supported its theory of invention. However, Japan also has evidence of paper gliders, so it can’t be said accurately that paper airplanes were first made in China.

Several Paper Inventions Marked The Beginning


Paper inventions reached France by the 1700s. Hot air balloons were made using paper; Montgovier and his brother were the first to make it. In 1783, they used paper to build lined cloth for hot air balloons.

But this didn’t lead to any invention of the paper airplane though it showed the world that paper could fly. Leonardo da Vinci later used paper to prepare a model for an ornithopter. Thus, many believe he was the first to make a paper airplane.

World War II Paved The Way

Another theory behind the history of the paper airplane is linked to world war II. It was the time when raw materials fell short of supply, and there were no metals to make toys for kids.

All those were used to make weapons and materials required for war. Thus, items of less importance were restricted. Only paper and wood were left as an option for toymakers. Walis Rigby, the English toymaker, was the first to use paper for toys such as trains, boats, and airplanes.

During the 1930s, his modern model design gained popularity, and soon his design was published in magazines and newspapers. It became famous among kids, and they used to make their first toy building using paper models.

However, the use of paper model airplanes ended with the end of WWII as restrictions on other materials were lifted. But the popularity of paper airplanes reached other countries till then. New models with better gliding ratios were experimented with. Aerodynamics and fluid dynamics were used to improve the flying distance of paper airplanes.

Professor Mathews and Ninomiya were the first to design models that could fly up to 85+ meters. Later in the 1960s, an advanced version of the paper airplane model was designed by Professor Ninomiya. It was given the name Whitewings, and all the designing was penned down in two books.

World record of paper airplane


Paper airplanes were not just a popular medium of fun but also used to set world records. Takio Toda is the first to succeed in keeping the paper plane in the air for the longest time duration (27.9) seconds.

Joe Ayoob set a record in flying a plane made out of paper to the longest distance of 226 feet and a few inches. Ken Blackburn was, however, the first among these two to make a world record in keeping paper airplanes indoor for 27.6 seconds.

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