Monday, March 1, 2010

Sailing Over Sydney

With the day shaping up like one imported directly from Seattle, I proceeded to print and trim a photo of Gibson-US's face (I had to trim because here in Oz, we use standard A4 paper, rather than the imperial legal format).

I elected to fold a traditional schoolroom paper airplane, rather than taking the time to construct a more elaborate one. I figured this would be easier to conceal up a sleeve, seems as I would be launching from the top of a Westfield carpark, renowned for their tight security.

I drove to the second top level of the parking lot (the top being reserved for employees and blocked by a boom gate) and made my way on foot to the top level, watching all the time for security guards. With no guards in sight, I loitered until just before the appointed hour, before making my way to the edge for the official launch.

As you can see, the view from the top of the carpark was less than impressive. On a clear day, you get a good view of the city and of Sydney Harbour Bridge but on this day there was a clear view of the grey horizon. Still, the mission was a complete success.

Original Video- More videos at TinyPic

Plummeting Towards Success

Sometimes the hardest part of challenge is not the execution, but the preparation. Such was the case with this paper airplane challenge. Printing out a picture of Gibson-OZ on a sheet of paper was easy (as you can see from the picture, I went with a faked polaroid style), but after that things got far more difficult. I mean, who knew paper airplanes were so complicated? After significant research I decided to try out a range of six styles, varying from the standard "dart" to the sleek "proto omni-wing". After a series of test flights I decided on a design simply called "the champ." It outperformed all of the other challengers and seemed to have the best opportunity for a long flight from atop a parking garage. With a name like "the champ" it had to be special, right?

I was confident and excited as my wife/assistant and I embarked on our trip to the Northgate Mall parking garage. The 48 hour delay from the original scheduled flight was a true blessing as last Friday it was pouring rain, while today it was perfect paper airplane flying weather — partly cloudy with a slight breeze. After dropping E off on street level, I wound my way up 5 levels of the parking garage to the top. It was desolate up there, just me, my paper airplane and a bunch of signs announcing that the premises were being monitored by cameras for my safety. Would a lone figure in a red hat holding a paper airplane on the top floor of the parking garage look suspicious? Would I be confronted by mall security? These were my anxious thoughts as I waited for the last 8 minutes to tick away before liftoff.

Security must have been busy busting teenage shoplifters, because as the clock turned over to 4:03 PST, I launched the airplane into the great wide open without a hitch. Unfortunately, the flight was not all that I had hoped.

"The champ" flew approximately 15 feet horizontally and then plummeted straight to the ground, crashing into the asphalt and startling a pedestrian in the process. But, while the flight did not meet my lofty expectations, we must remember that the success of these challenges is measured purely by whether or not Gibson-OZ and myself manage to execute the same task at the same time. Assuming that G-OZ was successful on his end, you can all rest assured that all is right with the world.
(video below)

Perhaps "the champ" was just taking one for the team — its violent crash on the pavement merely a sacrifice to assure that each of us don't befall the same fate? Yeah, that's it — a noble sacrifice. Good job "champ," we will remember you fondly as we safely travel from here to there and back again!