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June 10, 2010
SCHOOL children around Australia are
poised to learn more about the magic and
science of flight and to perhaps think
about a career in aviation after Air Force
entered into a partnership with two paper
Dylan Parker and James Norton are
known as the 'Paper Pilots'. They have
been making and flying paper planes
since they were children.
Dylan has designed and made more
than 300 planes of different designs.
But it wasn't until 2008 when, at
university, they first became aware that
there was a whole new career out there
"We saw a sign advertising the Red
Bull Paper Wings Australian nation-
als and thought it would be fun to get
involved," Dylan said.
"We thought it was just a normal
competition but it took us to the champi-
onships in Austria."
Although they had made paper air-
craft in their younger years, they are not
qualified pilots nor do they have any
They spent six months training and
preparing, which Dylan said involved
reading everything they could on the
theory of flight and attending every
workshop they could find.
"This was about 30,000 web pages,
more than 30 books and countless e-
mails with other paper plane manufac-
turers," he said.
The preparation paid off as they both
placed first in the Australian nationals;
wins that guaranteed them a place at the
Red Bull World's Paper Wings paper
The event was held in Salzburg
Austria from May 1-2 2009, and 250
competitors from an initial field of more
than 37,000 entries from 83 countries
Only 30, including Dylan and James,
made it through to the finals.
Dylan came third in the distance cat-
egory, while James came 12th in the
longest air time competition.
With these credentials, the two men
recognised a new career opportunity.
"We realised that we could use this
knowledge to teach school children
about the magic and science of flight,"
"The science for paper planes also
applies to real planes; so we felt there
was a connection for young people in
being able to understand how aircraft
actually get off the ground."
Since then, the two men have estab-
lished a program of visiting schools to
demonstrate the principles of flight and
encourage the students to make and fly
their own paper planes.
"It is amazing the reaction we get
when we show kids the planes and get
them to fly their own," Dylan said.
They then had another idea.
"We thought that we'd like to share
our knowledge with other people by
incorporating a program with the Air
Force," James said.
This came about after a chance meet-
ing with FSGT Ben Wright from AFHQ.
"I met James after he and Dylan
had just got back from Austria," FSGT
"After seeing his passion and hearing
about their program, I realised that Air
Force had an opportunity to be involved.
"Through them, Air Force could pro-
mote the magic and science of flight to
school children across the country.
"Years later the children might
remember the joy and enthusiasm they
felt after engineering and launching a
"This might just be enough to make
them consider a career in aviation.
"Air Force hopes to include the boys
in upcoming Airshows..
"We believe they would make a great
contribution to the shows by running
paper plane lessons and competitions,"
ON A WING AND AN A4: Paper plane making Australian champions 'Paper Pilots' Dylan Parker, left, and
James Norton sit in the engine intake of an Air Force BBJ with two of their designs during a recent visit to
34SQN at Defence Establishment Fairbairn. The two men have established a program of school visits to
teach children about the magic and science of flight. Air Force has now entered a partnership with them to
encourage children to consider an aviation career.
Photo: FSGT John Carroll
Plane making champs get on board
Find out more
For more information
on the Paper Pilots, log
on to www.paperpilots.
com.au, check them
out on Facebook www.
paperpilots or call them
on mobile phone 04317
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