Despite coming within feet of their goal, John Collins and Joe Ayoob failed to break their standing record.
John Collins and Joe Ayoob entered Pomeroy Sports Center in British Columbia on Friday with the hope of breaking their own Guinness World Record for farthest flight by a paper aircraft.
The event was sponsored by Orbitz, who flew the pair to Canada and provided a professional live stream on Facebook. It even received celebrity backing, as Bill Nye "The Science Guy" encouraged fans to watch the broadcast, which garnered hundreds of viewers.
A small crowd gathered in the sports center to cheer on Collins and Ayoob. Fellow paper plane professional Andy Chipling was also there, the mastermind behind the original Guinness Record rules which regulate the amount of tape allowed (25 millimeters by 30 millimeters) and prohibit the use of “darts,” which are glorified balls of paper thrown at high velocities.
They all want to see Collins and Ayoob send another paper plane soaring. The record-breaking pair are an odd duo. In a collared shirt soaked with sweat from the airless arena, Collins tugged at his tie, which was adorned with drawings of paper planes, as he jogged back and forth to collect the failed planes. Ayoob, a former quarterback in a backwards cap and baggy sports shorts, focused intently before zipping another plane across the rink.
Ayoob followed Aaron Rodgers as the quarterback at Cal and played three seasons of arena football. But his arm set a record on a different playing field back in 2012, when he shattered the world record for farthest flight by a paper aircraft by lofting one of Collins’ planes 226 feet and 10 inches.
This time around, the two spent almost three hours throwing, adjusting and throwing again. But after ten official throws and countless practice tries, the planes fell just a few feet too short.
“We had a real shot with this one,” Collins said. “But everything has to come together, you know? That’s why it’s a world record throw.”
During their three hours of practice, the team tested each individual plane, adjusting the nose slightly to the right or bending the wings down by a centimeter. Each time, the planes soared skyward for the first 100 feet, dipping and then curving to the side, crashing into the ground or the wall or the netting above the hockey rink, but continuously falling around 10 feet shy of the illuminated record line.
With the air conditioning turned off, the humidity and heat in the arena worsened throughout the event. Collins attributed some of his difficulties to these conditions; but ultimately he and Ayoob just couldn’t quite connect for the perfect throw.
“We were well over 215 [feet] each time, which is much further than the past world record,” Collins said. “So it’s not like we didn’t have a good day throwing. We just didn’t have a world record throwing day.”
For both Collins and onlooker Chipling, paper planes are more than just a hobby. Both make their living off of paper, traveling the world to educate, advocate and facilitate competitions.
Chipling advocates that paper planes can show children a way to play that is constructive and unplugged from the violence of video games. He also uses his teachings to connect children with an interest in aerospace engineering. His love of paper aircrafts comes from an appreciation he's held since childhood.
“It holds a sort of simplicity that I think is really wonderful,” Chipling said. “There are many beautiful things in this world, and one of them is watching a plane, that you’ve just folded from a simple piece of paper, fly across a room."
Even if they couldn't break their record, Chipling and the crowd witnessed Collins and Ayoob come close, and their record stands for future teams to chase.