On a pleasant February afternoon as we meet Dylan and James, they are surrounded by coloured papers and while chatting about their day trip to CPS Global School for a workshop, the duo quickly creates some colourful planes for us. Talking about their experience in the city, they tell us, “Kids are same everywhere across the globe. They are enthusiastic and always willing to learn new things, especially when you teach them through unconventional means. We have been teaching kids the science of flight and also problem-solving skills through our venture for a while now and every session we have had has been thrilling. You have to see how they run over and show us how the paper planes they have mad are actually flying,” says James. Dylan, a marketing specialist and James, a landscape architect founded The Paper Pilots in 2008, to educate and inspire students across Australia.
“It’s a hobby that has gone way to far,” jokes Dylan as he met James at a paper plane contest when they were in early 20s at the University of Canberra trying to qualify for the World Championships in 2008. “While we won national and international paper plane competitions, we had never imagined we would eventually take this up for a living. But now our venture is close to nine years old and we have travelled across the globe teaching kids to fly paper planes and in the process helping them learn about aerodynamics, forces of flight, the history of flight, flying inventions and flight in nature,” he adds.
The duo’s story even inspired an Australian film, Paper Planes by director Robert Connolly. Sharing about their experience, James says, “We were the official ‘Paper Plane Consultants’ on the sets of the film and designed all of the planes you see in the movie! We had to train the actors in the art of paper plane folding and throwing and even had a folding race at the end of filming to see how good they had become.” They tell us that they were super happy with how the film shaped up and just couldn’t stop smiling after watching it.
James also tell us that their sessions are not just meant for children but they have even worked with corporates and adults.
“It is heartening to see how many parents also come along with the kids and participate. They bond over creating paper planes and that is so much better than sitting in front of computer or constantly being glued to mobile phones. We have also worked with corporates and they need such sessions to take their mind off the mundane work,” he explains.
Norton, as James tells us, is “really good at time-in-the-air planes. “He can keep his plane up for around 22.8 seconds. Currently, the world record is 29, so he’s getting close,” smiles James.
After staying in Chennai for a couple of days, the duo will be heading to Delhi and interact with kids in the capital.