Stealth bomber moves into the realm of paper darts

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The Independent Online
Stealth-Bomber technology has come to the aid of the bored executive. The distinctive 'flying wing' of the world's most expensive aircraft has been incorporated into a radical redesign of the paper dart.

'I would not be surprised if it changed permanently the type of paper aeroplane which schoolboys learn to make,' said David Clark, lecturer in aeronautical engineering at the University of London.

The subtle techniques of origami - the oriental art of paper folding - are employed in making the plane, which will glide long distances, according to its inventor, Edmond Hui, a computer consultant.

Mr Hui began to think of a new design for the traditional 'delta wing' form of the paper dart in the mid-Seventies, at about the same time that the secret development of the B-2 bomber began, but long before its design became known.

Building on his knowledge of origami - he went to school in Hong Kong, where it is taught as part of the curriculum - and interest in hang gliding, he ended with a design similar to the flying wing of the Stealth bomber.

He said it would fly for about 30ft or more if made correctly, more than twice the average distance of the conventional paper dart.

But he cautioned that it was a little more difficult to construct, requiring a pair of scissors, a stapler and a lot of patience. 'A five- year-old won't be able to handle this. It's more of an executive toy.'

Mr Clark has written to Mr Hui to congratulate him on the redesigned paper planes.

He told the designer: 'I find them graceful, efficient and entertaining . . . The form is a sophisticated one, incorporating varying camber, twist and sweep to give a flying machine of great utility.'

He said the design was very different from the traditional paper darts, which were 'ugly and poor fliers by comparison'.

Purists may criticise Mr Hui's aeroplane - which he has called the Paperang because it looks like a boomerang - for needing a staple to hold two crucial folds together under the 'fuselage'. But Dr Clark described the single staple required as the 'master stroke'.

He added: 'I did find that, with a pin pushed through the centre section, to act as a towing hook, I was able to achieve a catapult launch and much more consistent flying.'

However, elastic bands proved too strong for the job, Dr Clark said. A short length of knicker elastic provided perfect acceleration for takeoff.