BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Evin Cooper was something of a dark horse at the The Red Bull Paper Wings National “Qualiflyer” in Dayton, OH this month.
Cooper is a student at Western Michigan University, studying to become a pilot in their Aviation Flight Science program. One day, he noticed a paper plane contest in the hanger, and decided to take part.
"Oh this is cool," said Cooper, "We’re just having fun throwing paper airplanes around."
His plane and throw was good enough to win him a spot at nationals for air time.
"I wasn’t expecting to win at all," said Cooper, "It was just kind of a fun experience."
Red Bull then flew him to Dayton, at the Air Force Museum, for the competition. There, he saw his competitors, many serious about paper planes and had competed before.
"I was like, ok I have to step up my game," said Cooper.
His first of two throws was beaten by another competitor. His second throw stayed in the air much longer.
"Based on how long it was in the air, I knew it would be close to the winning time at that point," said Cooper, "So, I walked over to where the judges, the two timers, were. Listening to what they’re saying, they were looking down, like 'oh what is this?' They had a look of awe on their face. I thought it’s either good or bad."
With a time in the air of 14.06 seconds, not only did Cooper win the competition by more than two seconds, he set a new national record for airtime.
"I’m not going to say I'm a professional paper airplane thrower or folder," said Cooper, "I just happened to make a good plane that day."
However, he said what he has learned in aviation school helped him create an aerodynamic paper plane.
Now, he will compete in the world competition in Austria on May 12.
"It's crazy," said Cooper, "Now that I'm representing not only Western but the United States, it’s a little more pressure."
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