Using ridge lift to fly model/paper airplanes
February 24, 2005 6:48 AM   Subscribe

Years ago, I saw a method for flying paper/model airplanes by walking forward holding a board in front of you. A young man appeared on the PBS show Newton's Apple demonstrated this technique in the 90s, but searching the episode guide doesn't yield any additional clues. Is there any information on the person who develped this technique, characteristics of planes that will work and does it play an ongoing role in paper airplane design and competitions?
posted by jhritz to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total)
a method for flying paper/model airplanes by walking forward holding a board in front of you.

I have no idea what this means, could you say it a different way, maybe then I can assist. TY.
posted by dash_slot- at 9:55 AM on February 24, 2005

I'm sorry but I'm confused, could you please provide a little more detail as to how this works?
posted by pwb503 at 9:55 AM on February 24, 2005

I think it creates a low pressure hole behind the person which allows for the plane to get a better lift.
posted by riffola at 10:08 AM on February 24, 2005

I know I've seen this before too, but don't have any other information unfortunately. Basically, you walk forward quickly while holding a flat piece of plywood at about a 45 degree angle. Apparently, the air that is diverted upward from the board holds the paper airplane in flight above it as you proceed forward.
posted by split atom at 10:15 AM on February 24, 2005

Split Atom: That's the basic idea. The guy would start walking forward and drop the airplane. It would be held aloft by the air striking the board and could be steered by tilting it left or right. Ridge lift is a lesser know way of flying gliders (thermals are probably the most popular). It occurs naturally when prevailing winds hit the side of a mountain range and deflect upward. Some of the distance records in gliders have been set by pilots using this technique. So what I'm looking for is this technique applied to model airplanes.
posted by jhritz at 10:54 AM on February 24, 2005

Somebody else has seen it:

Q. I've seen a guy fanning an indoor paper airplane and keeping it aloft. Do you know who that person is?

A. I have seen it done once - I was at a contest in England about 2 years ago [unclear when posted, though - first page is 2003] and a college team built a simple light weight paper airplane and used a sheet of poster board - the poster board was held at about a 45 degree angle so as it passed through the air it would ramp air up and over it.

Other than that, nothing. You'd think it would be a commonly known technique and widely discussed on various paper-airplane sites, but no. I find this disturbing; it's possible the entire internet is broken.
posted by dhartung at 1:03 AM on February 25, 2005

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