Top Gear’s James May was recently asked by Radio Times to demonstrate how he had made paper airplanes when he was a kid – something he used to spend hours a day doing (with some help from his father). According to James, the paper airplane he has developed is:
…sort of cross between a Vulcan bomber and a Fairey Delta, and if you do it properly, it’s a good flyer.
In addition, James told Radio Times that he had:
…spent hours making gliders with different wing shapes and that’s how I learnt the basics of aerodynamics. If you do things like that, it’s quite easy to grasp the fundamentals and you can easily start designing little aeroplanes of your own.
Today, James flies his own light aircraft, but he is still experimenting with both paper airplanes and balsa wood aircraft. In fact and for the Christmas 2012 edition of Toy Stories, James supervised a project to build a model balsa-wood glider and fly it the 22 miles across the English Channel to France.
I don’t yet see that episode posted on YouTube, but Radio Times has a short video where James demonstrates his technique for making paper airplanes:
In addition, here is a graphic that shows James’s method for making the ultimate paper plane (a full-size version can be downloaded here):
Here’s the episode with the glider James May built: