With a bend of the knees and an arch of the back, a Japanese engineer today set a world flight record for a paper plane, keeping his hand-folded construction in the air for 26.1 seconds.
Using a plane specially designed for "long haul" flights, Takuo Toda narrowly failed to match his lifetime best of 27.9 seconds, a Guinness world record set in Hiroshima earlier, but achieved with a plane that was held together with cellophane tape.
Today's flight, inside a Japan Airlines hangar near Haneda airport in Tokyo, was the longest by an unadulterated model. "I felt a lot of pressure," Toda told the Associated Press after his feat. "Everything is a factor ‑ the moisture in the air, the temperature, the crowd."
The record was all the more satisfying for having been achieved with a plane that stayed true to the traditions of origami, the traditional Japanese art of paper folding. He folded his 10cm aircraft by hand from a single sheet of paper and did not use scissors or glue.
Toda, who is president of the Japan origami aeroplane association, said the secret to a successful launch was to avoid a flat trajectory and get the plane as high in the air as possible to give it time to circle slowly towards terra firma. "It's really a sport," he said. "The throwing technique is very delicate."