British Columbia

'Paper Airplane Guy' picks Fort St. John for new flight record attempt, thanks to 6-year-old fan

World record holder John Collins plans to break his own record with his signature plane design on July 11 after 6-year-old local Parker Andrews called him up to talk technique.

Record attempt set for Pomeroy Sports Centre after Parker Andrews called famous plane maker to talk technique

John Collins is the author of several books of original paper plane designs. (John Collins)

Fort St. John, B.C., will be on the paper airplane map if John Collins, who lives in San Francisco, can beat his 2012 world record for a paper plane flight distance of 69.14 metres next month.

"It's going to happen. July 11, we're going to go up and make an attempt.," said Collins, who plans to launch his signature glider at the city's Pomeroy Sports Centre.

John Collins teaches STEAM workshops to kids and adults in the United States and abroad. (John Collins)

Collins, who has been interviewed by Conan O'Brien, uses his airplanes as a launch point for leading STEAM workshops — an educational approach using science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics — for all ages, usually in the United States.

He plans to run programs while in Fort St. John, as well.

"Talk a little paper airplanes, a little science and getting people excited about the idea of flying things in general," he said.

Unexpected phone call

Collins' choice of Fort St. John as site of his next record attempt is thanks to six-year-old local Parker Andrews, who made a friendly phone call to the paper plane expert.

Parker had been watching Collins' videos about paper airplanes on YouTube and was ready for a one-on-one.

"I said 'dad, can I phone John Collins up?' We got on his Instagram and dad just phoned him and then he's like 'oh, we're phoning John Collins.'"

The two hit it off after Parker threatened to beat Collins' record and they connected on paper plane technique. Collins now calls Parker his senior paper airplane correspondent. 

"Dihedral angle, that's what makes the plane fly straighter," said Parker, who practises flying his paper planes in his living room.

Parker Andrews, 6, holds a paper plane he folded using techniques learned from world record holder John Collins. (Cole Andrews)

Parker's dad, Cole Andrews, suggested the Pomeroy Sports Centre for the world record attempt after hearing how difficult it can be to find an appropriate indoor space.

Collins says the ice rink and sports facility is the ideal space to attempt a new record.

"Everything matters when you're trying to set a world record — from the paper stock to the folding technique, to the humidity to the temperature, where you practice, where you end up trying to break the record. It all adds up," he said. 

Paper airplane fever building

Parker has been teaching his own friends about paper planes and says enthusiasm in his Grade 1 class is building, with about seven kids getting into the craft.

Only two of his friends believe Collins is actually coming to Fort St. John, and even they took some convincing.

"I had to keep telling them and telling them," Parker said.

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