Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Paper Plane Champion Flying High Thanks to Red Bull

It wasn't a bird, a plane or even Superman that won Dylan Parker a bronze medal over the weekend, but a humble bullet-shaped paper plane.

Mr Parker outclassed more than 250 paper plane enthusiasts from 83 countries to place third in the long distance category of the Red Bull World Paper Plane Championships, throwing an impressive 40.78 metres.

Having won the qualifying rounds at his Canberra university and the nationals in Sydney, as part of the winning team, he travelled to compete in an all expenses paid trip to Salzberg, Austria.

Although Mr Parker’s throw wasn't enough to beat Croatia's Jovica Kozilca, who defended his title by throwing a mighty 54.43 metres, Parker thoroughly enjoyed what has been a highlight of his year so far.

“It was quite a big thing over there- they had television cameras, scoreboards, the music going- it was just extraordinary to see so many people dedicate their lives to paper planes,” he said.

In preparation for the event, Parker underwent hours of gym work, strength training, and threw a lot of paper planes.

“The Guiness World Record holder for hang-time, Ken Blackburn, trained for nine months in the gym and on the field before he tried to set his world record, so if he was anything to go by, we had to put in the effort,” he said.

Mr Parker discovered his competitive design by accident when preparing for the nationals, and despite the 18 reams of paper he and his team mate went through in preparation for the finals, nothing could beat his chance discovery.

“Everyone makes planes when they're a kid and has a plane that they remember, I designed mine by accident; I did a few folds and it turned out to be the one I used in the championships,” he said.

By the end of the year, he and his teammate, James Norton, could see their own names in the Guiness Book of World Records. Their sights are set on beating Blackburn's time.

“We are getting close to the Guiness World Record; at the moment we are throwing around 58 meters and the record for the long distance category is 63,” he said.

“James Norton is only two or three seconds away from Blackburn's 27.6 seconds so we are working on that and will hopefully get both world records for Australia.”

In the future, Parker hopes to approach paper planes a different way and publish a book.

“I'm doing demonstrations at schools at the moment and really enjoying that, so it will be interesting to see just how far I can take paper plane throwing in the future,” he said.