Imagine, you are a child living in the 1920s. You are fascinated by aircraft, and you really want to find out more about how they work. It is amazing to think that people can fly like birds, but you still don't understand how. Your father has given you a 'Vesta Flying Postcard' which he promises, if you carefully follow the instructions, will show you a tiny aircraft in action. It's worth a try!
When I took this Vesta Flying Postcard to show the children they found it utterly fascinating. We have several children who are fascinated by paper planes, and have enthusiastically created their own designs, so to see a 'really old' paper plane was really exciting for them. They were surprised that people were actually printing instructions for paper planes as long ago as the early 1900s, thinking that paper airplanes would be a more modern development. They were very enthusiastic to see how the plane flew and whether the design might even be better than modern ones. If you want to find out for yourself, come back on Friday and Roy will show you how to make the plane on the flying postcard.
Even though paper planes themselves have only been around since 'real' planes were invented, their origins actually date back thousands of years, to other flying paper models. It was early on that people began to work out that folding or cutting paper in certain ways made it 'fly'. The Chinese were making kites out of paper as far back as 2000BC. Unfortunately, paper usually doesn't last that long so we don't have any examples of these first kites left. However, these kites were just the first of many paper models! The next major development in the world of flying paper models came in the 1700s with the balloon. The first balloons appeared in France, at around this time, made by the Montgoflier Brothers, using paper. In 1873, when balloons which could carry people began to appear, they were made of paper lined cloth.
The first real paper airplanes appeared in 1908 and 1909 though, long after these early flying paper models were created. The first designs for paper airplanes appear in Aero Magazine in 1908 and 1909 and were actually used to demonstrate aerodynamics and even to help people designing airfoils. In fact, in the 1930s the American Airplane designer Jack Northrop used paper airplanes to help him design airplane wings! The paper models were particularly popular during the Second World War when many materials, like plastic and metal, were harder to get. Paper became a popular material for toy companies to use and many paper models, including planes, can be found from that time. After the war plastic became the most popular material to use, but even today, most children still enjoy making planes and other models out of paper. To find out more about the history of paper airplanes, click here.