The Ultimate Paper Airplane | WIRED

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I like to joke with people that I have made a paper airplane when you think of a paper airplane you probably think of something like this but for one designer a paper airplane is something completely different and a lot more detailed and of course they're not people I'm sure think I'm totally crazy and then when I actually show them photos they often are pretty shocked and they probably think I'm crazy in a different way which you know might be valid for nearly a decade on-and-off-again Luka I Akoni Stewart has been painstakingly designing and building this 160th scale model of a Boeing triple7 it's a project that's really hard to explain in in words and so I often avoid doing that I just kind of skip to pictures because that's really the only way you can convey this sense of detail and just the kind of insanity of it all it even blows my own mind I don't really know I've done a lot of it this is no off-the-shelf model he uses a bare minimum of tools and materials it's you know manila folder glue exacto blade straight edges it's a pretty simple set of materials that I use and it's small about using those two to make all different kinds of things and that's kind of the challenge and the fun in it I have cut myself doing this project definitely sliced the very tip of my finger off just the skin it all began as a school assignment it started on a much smaller scale in terms of the detail there are still parts of it that are original but I increased the complexity over time I just found my skills increasing and so I wanted to add more detail and I've torn it apart many times to add more stuff or to make it more accurate so detailed that there are tiny lamps made of strands of paper above the first-class seats and moving wing flaps engine parts and landing gear that actually retract created both sides here and I mounted them in this like little test that replicates the main structural elements that they're connected to so this would be like the cabin floor would be this way and then the wings would be kind of this way they have all the kind of steering function so it was actually kind of shocked that it all worked out given how small the scale is yeah this is completely made out of paper the the tires are completely solid core insides that they can actually support a fair amount of weight this is the nose landing gear which is a lot less complex but even at the time that was another piece that it was kind of like wow you know I can't believe this this has worked out as well so it just kind of retracts like that it's a pretty simple concept but you know getting it to work in paper can be a challenge there are two types of manila folder I use there's a thinner kind that's like the regular folder you might you know encounter in the wild and then there is a thicker kind that's more of a divider though I use those for structural elements like in the wings that need to be much more kind of load-bearing making these parts can take weeks or even months Luka designs the pieces prints them cuts them out by hand and then painstakingly glues them together there is a fair amount of concentration that that I have to have when I'm putting this stuff together but once I kind of get the hang of it I know what I'm doing this is very much a unique project in that I've had to research everything and drop my own plans and that's what I think a lot of people don't realize I think I'm either working off a kid which is understandable but that's really not the case and I've had to come up with all of my own plans and obviously even if you had a kit it wouldn't really translate or lend itself to this type of material you know I have to translate what they make into something that I can build and that will work in paper and there's a huge difference in how you know something will look the same on my model but the way it actually works is completely different because I'm taking into account how paper responds not having plans means that sometimes hundreds of hours of work end up scrapped so this I like to jokingly call the plane-crash because you know it's like so these are all sections that I've kind of ripped out over the years you can see this is like the cabin side wall kind of looks like again like what you might see in a plane crash just totally shredded parts of the fuselage so why would anyone spend this kind of time on a project like this I've mainly done this project because I really enjoy the sense of calm and meditation that it brings when I really get into the building process the most satisfying thing is to look at pictures and know the actual plane and transform that into your own plans and then see it actually come together in paper that's probably the most rewarding feeling and it's kind of exhilarating when you get to the end and you really see a component coming to life it's like a really exciting sense of achievement and so that's kind of what keeps me going sections of the cabin actually open up to reveal the interior so that's first and business class and this is business and economy I haven't been able to fully replicate all the detail or rather haven't wanted to the overhead bins don't open the seats don't actually recline I think people often think they do but they don't unfortunately thanks to some press and Lucas popular YouTube channel the plane model has taken him to some unexpected places even to the actual Boeing assembly line and so I actually got to see their whole production facility and actually got really up close to these planes and that was an amazing experience their assembly line is really a feat of engineering obviously it's an the sense of scale is just otherworldly and it's landed in pain work making this advertisement about two years ago I was contacted by Singapore Airlines and I was lucky enough to work on a project with them an ad campaign for social media and so I actually got to build this plane behind me the a380 2/3 was their flagship and after thousands of hours of toiling over the paper version a few years ago he finally flew on the jet his model replicates a Boeing triple7 300gr I really was glad that I was finally able to and it kind of unfortunate that it took me so long but it was it was cool just to see the actual thing all that time looking out the window got him ready for the last challenge so yes the plane does not yet have wings I'm kind of in the midst of designing them and I've broken them down into sections and I've been slowly creating each different subsystem if you will but yeah it's it's a notable omission thus far and that's kind of the last it's like the last thing I have to do which is in fact a multi-year ordeal I'm not sure why I'm so interested in airplanes when I was little it was trained I think it's hard not to be amazed by the fact that these huge pieces of you know metal and now plastic can take off into the air and that they're they're so advanced and complex the testament to human ingenuity

Over the last decade, designer Luca Iaconi-Stewart has been building an incredibly detailed model of a Boeing 777, right down to the tiny seats and moving landing gear, using only paper folders and glue.

Check out Luca’s YouTube channel:

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The Ultimate Paper Airplane | WIRED

24 comments on “The Ultimate Paper Airplane | WIRED

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