International paper plane challenge at the foot of the Alps.

A world championship is organized every year in Austria. Competitors compete with ingenuity and imagination to launch the farthest the famous paper plane.

The paper airplane is now a sport in its own right. Well almost. During a weekend at a world championship in Austria, some of the world’s leading specialists compete against each other. Give them a simple sheet of A4 paper, they make it a “hunter” that splits the air, a glider with wide wings, an outfielder who connects loops: some 180 young people from all over the world participate until Saturday in Salzburg at contest that will win three world champions of the launch of paper planes.

Selected in qualifying events in 58 countries, many registered “by chance” and “for fun” at the indoor event organized by the Austrian firm Red Bull. But they quickly took to the game. “The level is impressive, there are participants who throw 50 meters,” says Agence France-Presse Jonathan Miraucourt, 24, who represents France in the category “long distance ‘of dispatching his aircraft as far as possible.

Qualified with a shot of 35 meters “only”, the young man from Tahiti, a student in Montpellier, is in doubt about the approach of the final: and if he was wrong with his technique to throw without momentum intended to ensure the stability of the shot? From the folding of the paper to the twist of the wrist that sends the machine, each team has its recipes and tips that the more experienced do not hesitate to entrust to the novices, in an atmosphere that is more of a holiday camp than Olympic Games.

A very technical test

Sacred world champion in 2012 in the category “acrobatics”, the American Ryan Naccarato, a native of Los Angeles, displays the serenity of the experience: it is his third participation in this contest organized every three years. “You have to adapt to the parameters of each test: the quality of the paper, its weight, the air temperature, the humidity”, seriously explains the one who, at 29, assumes his passion for folding and origami.

No complex either for Emmei Shinichi, a 54-year-old Japanese, participating the oldest of a mainly male and male panel. He is one of the most studious competitors, leaning on the folding of a complex form whose goal will be to glide as long as possible.

A boomerang plane

The most creative test, acrobatics scrolls all gear designs provided that their design is limited to paper, glue and scissors. An Indonesian arouses curiosity with two leaves agitated fan that flutter gracefully. An Indian has designed a boomerang of formidable velocity. “For the distance, we all make the same type of plane, shaped very sharp dart,” said an Algerian participant who warms his arm and shoulder. Indeed, beware of muscle pain, he warns.

The last final of 2015 had a throw at 53.22m and a flight time of 14.36s. All aircraft must be manufactured on the competition site, an overheated hangar at the foot of the Austrian Alps, with views of … the runways of Salzburg Airport, a nod to the likes of Red Bull, a brand of energy drinks become a heavyweight of sports marketing targeting young adults.

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