A participant performs during the elimination for the Red Bull Paper Wings World Finals 2015 in Salzburg, Austria on May 9, 2015.
- Photographer Credit Sebastian Marko/Red Bull Content Pool
SALZBURG (Austria) – The cream of the world’s paper plane fliers converged in Salzburg on Saturday for the fourth Red Bull Paper Wings World Finals and the standard of supreme aviation competition did not disappoint.
After a grueling 535 qualifiers and more than 46,000 contenders worldwide, the 200 finalists entertained the passionate crowd and assembled media with a physics-defying demonstration of paper plane skills and prowess.
No kerosene, no engine, just a regular A4 sheet of paper and a pilot throwing it is enough to earn a world title.
Veselin Ivanov of Bulgaria dethroned champion Thomas Back in the longest distance category even though the Czech edged agonizingly close to a world record with his second throw. Ivanov kept his cool in an electrifying atmosphere to win with a throw of 53.22m ahead of Jovica Kozlica from Croatia and Japan’s Yuki Kajiya, who managed third thanks to his plane’s unique design.
“I did not expect this,” a tearful Ivanov said. “I cannot believe I won. It is such a dream come true for me.”
Participants celebrate during the Red Bull Paper Wings World Finals 2015 in Salzburg, Austria on May 9, 2015.
- Photographer Credit Samo Vidic/Red Bull Content Pool
The aerobatics category offered spectacular flights with the winner, Lebanese Avedis Tchamitchian, seemingly defying the laws of physics as he landed a maximum 50 points. “I am overwhelmed,” he said. “The judging was so fair for every participant. Just awesome. I will definitely be back in 2018 to defend my title.”
“As judges we’re looking for three things: We’re looking for the construction, the creativity and the flight performance,” said Internet sensation Zach King, one of five judges. “This competition is awesome.”
Double Olympic champion sailor Hans Peter Steinacher was equally impressed.
“It is amazing what some of the competitors come up with. Sensational ideas, that’s what I was looking for. I am really fascinated by the creativity on show.”
There was a nail-biting finale for the longest airtime title, the narrowest ever seen at the Red Bull Paper Wings World Finals, as the crowd in Hangar-7 erupted. Armenian Karen Hambardzumyan snatched victory with a 14.36 second flight, ahead of Ma Ieng from Hong Kong, whose plane lasted 13.76 seconds in the air. Japan’s Yohei Hayashi was third.