Rarely has a student earned more than a scolding or detention for making paper airplanes. UC Davis undergraduate, Ryan Naccarato, however, created a paper plane design that scored him an all-expenses paid trip to Salzburg, Austria to compete in the Red Bull Paper Wings finals.
The Red Bull Paper Wings competition was first held in 2006, invites students from college campuses all over the United States to work their magic with a sheet of paper and produce a plane that can qualify in longest distance, aerobatics or longest airtime.
According to a Red Bull press release, 14 student qualifiers from the United States will attend the Paper Wings finals in Salzburg, Austria to compete with 300 other student finalists from 80 different countries.
Naccarato, a sophomore linguistics major, is the only student qualifier from UC Davis and gained his advancement through scoring a 95 in the category of aerobatics.
“It’s a qualitatively judged event,” Naccarato said. “In aerobatics you try and fly the plane in a creative way, using loops and dives.“
Naccarato may have qualified in aerobatics, but his plane had the potential to qualify in distance as well. In his tryout attempt the plane traveled the length of the room until it hit the wall, an interruption that made his total distance immeasurable, Naccarato said.
Naccarato credits his success to his previous experience working with model planes.
“I’ve made origami before and I have experience with model airplanes, so I had a very good understanding of what they wanted,” Naccarato said.
The Red Bull Paper Wings contest was held in UC Davis‘ Freeborn Hall and saw a turn out of about 55 people, said Red Bull Brand representative and UC Davis junior Kevin Goldberg.
Naccarato was the only “qualiflyer“, making him the first finalist to come from UC Davis in the contest’s history, said Scott Houston, Red Bull communications associate.
Outside of Naccarato’s success, the judges saw their fair share of tryout failures. “There were a few [planes] that only went a foot or two,” Goldberg said.
Contestants had to construct their planes at the event site using paper they were provided with.
“[Making the plane] was difficult because the paper we had to use was thick and easy to tear,” Naccarato said.
All competition qualifiers will be flown to Salzburg, Austria to compete in the Red Bull Paper Wings finals on May 1 and 2. The all-inclusive trip includes airfare, hotel and food accommodations for participants, Naccarato said.
The Red Bull Paper Wings website announced the competition will be held in Salzburg’s Hangar-7, a well-known piece of architecture in Austria which holds 16 aircrafts, a restaurant and world famous art exhibits.
Unlike the trials that took place on college campuses, the finals will allow contestants to construct their paper planes beforehand. Finalists must use the paper Red Bull provides them with, cutting and gluing are not permitted, and contestants will each have two flight attempts.
In addition to the free trip to Austria Goldberg said the winner will receive, the winner will also receive a grand prize that will be announced when the winner is determined.
AMANDA HARDWICK can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.