Thunder Bay

'Paper Airplane Guy' landing in Thunder Bay

John Collins turned a childhood interest in flight into a dream career.

World record holder for paper airplane distance will be special guest at Kite Festival

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

"The Paper Airplane Guy" is coming to Thunder Bay, Ont. 

John Collins, who won a spot in the Guinness World Records book for paper airplane distance, will be a special guest at the city's annual Kite Festival, taking place this Sunday at Chippewa Park. 

They're going to see paper airplanes do things that they probably haven't seen before.- John Collins

It's a chance for kids to learn tips and tricks from an expert who picked up the hobby at a young age, and turned it into a dream career. 

"I started when I was eight or nine," Collins said, "and most people kind of get over it at some point, and I just never did."

"I am just completely fascinated by things that fly."

That fascination led Collins to learn about aerodynamics, and origami. He studied the art of paper folding for a decade, he said, in his quest to create the perfect paper planes. 

His original designs include models that can circle back, imitate the flapping wings of flying creatures and travel incredible distances.

World record plane

In 2012, Collins set a world record when a paper airplane of his creation flew 69.14 metres, thrown from the arm of a football player.

But the plane can actually travel almost three metres further than that, he said. 

"The world record day was our worst practice day of the year," he said, laughing over the story. "And I found out a year and a half later, my thrower admitted that he'd gone bowling the night before and hurt his elbow. So we managed to smash the record, but there's plenty left in the tank."

Collins, who calls California home, said he's looking forward to visiting Thunder Bay, and sharing his knowledge with families. 

"They're going to see paper airplanes do things that they probably haven't seen before," he said. "And it's just, instantly, they're hooked."

The 38th annual Kite Festival takes place Sunday June 3 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Chippewa Park. Admission is free.

Families are invited to come fly their own kites, watch professional kite flyers, and take part in other activities. 

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