Legends of paper planes, Olympic champions, wing walkers and social media heroes; the judges for the Red Bull Paper Wings World Final 2015 have a combined knowledge of flight of several decades as they prepare for the most exciting competition of its kind in the world. Competitors in this year’s Red Bull Paper Wings vying for the aerobatics title will have to win over five judges, who have themselves broken new ground in their fields of interest.
Whether it is paper plane legends and world record holders such as John Collins or Ken Blackburn, both of whom are returning judges to the competition, or double Olympic champion sailor Hans Peter Steinacher, daredevil wing walker Peggy Walentin or social media sensation Zach King. They are all experts in what they do.
With paper plane enthusiasts ready to battle it out in the impressive Hangar-7 the judges are preparing to add their spice to the mix with the world’s best having emerged from 535 of national qualifying tournaments.
John Collins: an aircraft designer and paper wings legend in his own right, John set a world record in distance in 2012 when Joe Ayoob sent the Collins-designed airplane constructed from a single sheet of uncut A4 paper flying for some 69.14 metres, (226 feet 10 inches) for a world record.
Zach King: A vine sensation and a huge hit among youngsters, Zach knows how to grab your attention. Initially famous for his short six-second edited videos that have him appear as if he creates magic. A string of awards, including Youtube’s NextUp Creators award and scores of TV appearances later and Zach is known the world over for his eye-popping digital wizardry.
Peggy Walentin: the only woman on the panel but the biggest daredevil of all. Peggy rides on wings of planes for the last 16 years performing breath-taking stunts in front of large crowds. In a job where every little detail matter and everything must be calculated, Peggy know what it takes to a perfectionist. An enthusiastic pilot in her spare time, Peggy flies single and double engine planes and is also a flight instructor.
Ken Blackburn: Another living legend of paper planes, Ken is a world record holder for the longest airtime, clocking more than 27 seconds from a previous best set by him as well. An aeronautical engineer by profession Ken has been a paper plane enthusiast since a young kid.
Hans Peter Steinacher is Austria’s most successful summer Olympic champion, along with colleague and friend Roman Hagara, having twice won two gold in sailing at the Sydney 2000 Games and in Athens four years later. He and Hagara are also competing with the Red Bull Sailing Team in the Extreme Sailing Series. Hans-Peter, an enthusiastic pilot himself in his spare time, is a also sports director at the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup and the newly-launched Red Bull Foiling Generation where sailing boats fly above the water thanks to their radical design.