Here's John M Collins narrating the technique he used to create "Suzanne," his world-championship-winning paper airplane, which set a distance record in 2012 -- the whole thing, along with many more super-advanced paper aviation techniques are laid out in his book, The New World Champion Paper Airplane Book: Featuring the World Record-Breaking Design, with Tear-Out Planes to Fold and Fly.
Collins's narration is delightful, the gentle admonishments to precision and care typical of any obsessive craftsperson or supernerd. The book itself uses paper airplanes as a jumping-off point to explore the scientific method, with each plane variation as an experiment designed to prove or disprove an hypothesis.
Paper airplanes embody the scientific method. Every throw is an experiment. It’s a hobby that begs the paper pilot to understand ever more in order to excel. Hypothesis, experiment design, trial, and results—it’s all built into every plane and every throw. To play with a paper airplane is to dabble in science, whether you know it or not.
We have a number of global issues confronting us. Global energy shortages, food shortages, water shortages, and something people are calling global warming are all worrisome. These problems will have answers that only science can provide. We have no spare brains on the planet. We need everyone thinking about these challenges in a rigorous way.
Imagine this: a world of people playing with science, who get up every morning, focus on what’s good, and imagine how to make more of that. You can call me a dreamer. I don’t mind. You don’t have to believe a word of what I say. Just make a paper airplane and experience how exhilarating that feels. We’re born makers. When you make something, anything from a pie to a pencil drawing, it’s like waking a dormant part of you. The world shifts slightly. You can feel it, and it feels good.
Suzanne, the world-record paper airplane, boasts a series of firsts: the first glider to hold the distance record, the first paper airplane to use changing airspeed to enhance performance, the first plane to use a thrower/designer team, and the first plane to break the record after the run-up-to-throw distance was shortened from 30 to 10 feet. It is a truly amazing aircraft. I believe Suzanne changes the way distance records will be broken in the future. The days of brute-force darts are gone, replaced by the age of true gliders.