Enjoy Paper Planes like you never have before. Powered flight is possible with PowerUP 3.0.
Have you ever just sat back, looked up into the sky and watched as a long thin white line expanded? Even my 23-month-old daughter will point up and say look. Or have you stated, “Hey Siri what flights are above me?” Flight has always amazed me, not solely the physics, but the entire concept of flight It is awe inspiring to think that something heavier than air can stay aloft. This may also likely be the reason that paper airplanes have been so exciting over the years. Whether you make a dart or a glider, is it not an amazing feat to personally make something that can soar through the air. My father made paper airplanes for me, I make them for my children and I am sure that they will make them for their children.
The current world record paper airplane flight was conducted by Joe Ayoob in 2012, based on the design by John M. Collins. The record flight distance was recorded at 226 feet, 10 inches (69.4 meters) and was initiated via a hand launch. Interestingly, the world record flight time is not held by the same team. Rather, the world record flight time (29.2 seconds) was obtained by Takuo Toda in Hiroshima, Japan in 2009. These values are outstanding and far superior to anything that I can achieve with my paper airplanes. With the PowerUp 3.0 Smartphone controlled Paper Airplane Conversion kit, you can keep your plane in the air much longer than normal.
The product arrives in very appealing retail packaging, displaying the plastic conversion upgrade within a clear window on top. I really like the method that they chose to display the product. It almost makes the upgrade feel like it is inside of a trophy case. The front of the cardboard slip cover displays a red paper airplane with the attached motor upgrade. On the back of the package, you are given many of the device specifications. The packaging promises an 180 foot/55meter control range, 10-minute flight per 25 minute charge time and a crash proof design. You can download the free smartphone app from the IOS and Google Play store.
Included within the packaging, you can expect to find #4 pieces of red paper. Two of these have inked folding lines, which will allow you to make the invader (novice) and the other two detail the construction of the Nakamura (advanced). You will also find a 16.5″ USB A to USB micro cable, an accessory pack with an extra rudder and propeller and a multi-lingual instruction manual (English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese). To start, you will need to charge the PowerUp 3.0 module. At the rear end of the module, you will find the USB Micro charging port. Insert the micro-USB plug into the socket and then place the USB-A end into any USB port. Along the front of the module, a white LED will flash during charging. It will start at a fast paced flashing and will slow to an occasionally blink, when complete (25-30 minutes). While charging, make sure the app is downloaded and then make sure that the Bluetooth is on and WiFi is turned off (decreases interference). Next, you will need to construct the paper airplane.
You can utilize the included sheets of paper to fold the intruder or the Nakamura. These sheets are not standard 8.5 x 11 (11 5/8″ x 8 1/4″), but you can use standard computer paper if desired. The instructions are inked on the red paper, located inside of the manual and you can utilize the QR code link (in the manual) to see folding videos. The intruder is relatively easy to fold. Start with the paper in landscape and fold the top corners towards the center line. Then fold the new inner corners towards the outer top edge, fold outwards again and then fold the tip down and the outer edges inwards. You will notice a clear chevron pattern at the top of a pentagonal shape. Fold the entire plane in half, fold the wings down, and then the flaps up. Take the module and slide the clips into the tip of the paper airplane. If you desire additional templates you can check out the “templates” section for printable templates. Interestingly, I have been folding the Nakamura for years and did not even know it. I now have the Nakamura, the intruder, the dart, the King and another unnamed glider plane in my repertoire.
With my 7 and 5-year-old boys watching, I lined up down my driveway to take the intruder’s maiden flight. I do have a few large trees in my yard and I made sure to fly in a direction to avoid them. I had a great throw and the plane traveled straight about 50-60 feet and then disaster occurred. The wind picked up, I could not stabilize the plane and suddenly I realized I was not as strong of a pilot as I thought. My seven-year-old laughed and said, “Well, that was awful.” To make matters worse, it was lodged about 12 feet up in the tree and hooked on the rudder/propeller. I pulled out my step stool, got a broom and gently nudged the plane out of the tree. I got ready to fly it again and realized that it sounded funny. I looked closely at the plane and realized that the propeller was lost. I pulled out the accessory pack and replaced the propeller. I moved out into the cul-de-sac and flew the plane up the road. I was really impressed with the controls and with the strength of the propeller. It really made a significant difference. If you are flying directly into the wind, the enhancement will help minimally. However, on a calm day, or flying with the wind, you will notice a prominent upgrade in flight time and distance.
The module will have power for 10 minutes, which will give you about 7-8 flights. The module appears designed to take a beating and withstood ~10 crashes. The app seems intuitive, but the actual method to control the plane is very complicated. The main screen of the app shows the plane and a visual representation of the horizon. Across the top is a circle with degrees markings for angles/flight. You have a fuel indicator and a throttle as well. On the screen, you can swipe right to see weather information to include humidity, temp, pressure, wind speed, wind direction. I am not certain where this information comes from. If you swipe from left to right, you will enter into settings mode. You can adjust FlightAssist, which allows beginning pilots to have easier control, while banking. Essentially the mode will increase thrust while turning, backward to keep you airborne. When you become more advanced, you can turn this feature off and have more accurate/control of turning. If the rudder controls are backward, you can change the rudder by pressing the button on the app. You can trim the rudder as well to adjust the zero command position. To trim left press the “-” sign and to trim right use the “+” sign. Each tap adjusts the rudder 5 degrees.
The app to rudder and app to throttle controls are quite sensitive and respond quickly. You will need to have the phone at 0 degrees or 180 degrees for the rudder to be midline. I really like the add-on and both of my children got to play with the module as well. It really did enhance our enjoyment of a relatively regular pastime. The instruction note that the device is for ages 14 and up. I believe 10 and up is probably more fitting. It was a little difficult for myself, much harder for my 7-year-old (now 8) and my 5-year-old pretty much ran it straight into the ground. The crash testing was amazing. It hit concrete multiple times. The nose is actually protected by the paper. When the paper rips/tears or wears, build a new one. This is an ingenious way to have a drone without having the expense of rebuilding plastic. I would rate the device at 5/5 stars. It is incredibly ingenious and simply works. I did not experience any lag, nor did I experience any interference. The controls are difficult to learn at first, but like with any drone, can be mastered with time. I personally look forward to the VR style drones that are available. In fact, there is now an upgrade for paper airplanes with a VR experience called the Powerup FPV. This company has a winning product and I am excited about their further tech upgrades. My only complaint, I am not that great of a pilot and I need more propellers. Luckily, they sell a parts kit at a reasonable price.
It is easy to put a toy away when a new toy comes out. However, this toy is different. You may not think you need it, but once it is on your airplane, it really makes the already enjoyable experience better. I certainly am glad that we had the experience.
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