Duo’s paper airplane seizes Guinness World Records status

BNN / Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Top: During the setup phase, surveying team members Jeremy O'Brien (foreground) and Pat Nejman work to calibrate and properly configure equipment to take accurate measurements. Above: Lead Surveyor Glen Boren (from left, wearing neon), Fire Chief Mark Baumgardner (wearing red), Garrett Jensen (pointing and explaining the rules to both official witnesses), and Dillon Ruble and Nathan Erickson (both setting up the table).

It’s a classic activity everyone learns during their childhood. Fold a piece of paper into an airplane and send it soaring into the sky with a flick of the wrist.

Boeing engineers Dillon Ruble and Garrett Jensen [both members of Delta Sigma Phi] grew up folding paper airplanes, but never thought they would one day break world records.

A prototype paper airplane.

As second- and third-generation Boeing employees, Jensen and Ruble vividly remember attending company Family Day events as children.

“We would fold paper airplanes back then as a fun childhood activity,” Ruble said. “Origami, or the art of folding paper, became a long-term passion.”

That passion ignited a dream, one that would become record-breaking reality for the duo.

“It was hard to believe,” Ruble said. “It was one of those moments: Is this real?”

Ruble and Jensen, along with the support of Nathan Erickson, made history on Dec. 2, 2022, in Crown Point, Indiana, for the farthest flight by a paper aircraft.

“We hope this record stands for quite a while — 290 feet (88 meters) is unreal,” Jensen said. “That’s 14 to 15 feet (4.2 to 4.6 meters) over the farthest throw we ever did. It took a lot of planning and a lot of skill to beat the previous record.”

Ruble and Jensen are from St. Louis and studied Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at Missouri S&T in Rolla. Today, they are engineers for Boeing. Their design was inspired by hypersonic aerospace vehicles and they practiced for four months before making their attempt.