Aviation museum hosts paper plane record holder
Source: Pensacola News Journal
Aeronautical engineer Ken Blackburn has a difficult goal — building kids’ enthusiasm for paper planes in an age when children can fly virtual fighter jets and spacecraft from their living room sofas with gaming consoles.
Blackburn, an aeronautical engineer and the Guinness Record-holding designer of the paper plane with the longest time aloft, will speak to kids and adults at the National Naval Aviation Museum at Pensacola Naval Air Station on Saturday. The event is part of the museum’s Discovery Saturday speaker series featuring experts on aviation and history topics.
Blackburn said paper planes have captured his imagination since childhood.
“Seeing a paper airplane flying across a room is magical, it is something you cannot do with a computer,” he said.
And seeing a paper airplane fly amid the dozens of historic military aircraft on display at the National Naval Aviation Museum is especially magical, he said.
“It is one of my favorite places to do presentations because there is nothing more inspiring than having the actual planes in front of you,” he said.
Blackburn studies aerodynamics for the Eglin Air Force Base Research Lab. He previously worked on advanced fighter jets and other manned aircraft and drone designs for McDonnell Douglas and for Boeing.
While Blackburn uses the latest technology in his day-to-day research and design work, he said there is something basic and beautiful about paper planes that has always fascinated him.
He has written four books about paper airplanes and uses the planes to explain basic concepts of flight and aerodynamics to kids and adults.
He said the aircraft design that set the Guinness Record was a modification of a basic design he discovered when he was 12.
Creating paper airplanes as a child inspired his fascination with flight that led to his career in aeronautical engineering, he said.
“The best lesson I can convey is that persistence pays off, to keep working on something and not give up,” he said.
Museum spokeswoman Malerie Shelton said Saturday’s presentation is geared for both kids and for adults.
“I hope this topic entices families to attend and bring the young ones to hear about paper airplanes and explore a day at the museum,” she said.
Blackburn’s presentation is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday in the museum atrium.
The next Discovery Saturday presentation is scheduled for July 16. Author George Sigler will discuss his book, “Experiment in Survival.” The book is about Sigler and a fellow Naval aviator who spent 56 days on a raft floating from the U.S. West Coast to Hawaii while testing survival equipment and methods.
The bi-monthly Discovery Saturday presentations are free and open to the public.