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British competitor comes second at world’s biggest paper plane throwing event

Yicheng Sun of Great Britain, Lazar Krstic of Serbia and Aibek Atabay of Kazakhstan (Red Bull)
Yicheng Sun of Great Britain, Lazar Krstic of Serbia and Aibek Atabay of Kazakhstan (Red Bull)

An aircraft designer representing Britain at the world’s biggest paper plane throwing competition has said he is “amazed” to have won second place.

Yicheng Sun, 32, was crowned runner-up at the Red Bull Paper Wings world super final by throwing a paper plane a distance of 57.07 metres.

Yicheng Sun of Great Britain celebrate with his team at the Longest Distance discipline during the Red Bull Paper Wings World Finals 2022 in Salzburg, Austria. (Red Bull Paper Wings)
Yicheng Sun of Great Britain celebrate with his team (Red Bull Paper Wings)

Mr Sun, who is a research fellow in aerospace vehicle design at Cranfield University, in Bedfordshire, beat 60 competitors from 58 countries in the longest distance category.

“It is amazing, I can’t believe it,” Mr Sun told the PA news agency.

“When the competition starts, it’s really tough but I decided to take a risk and I ended up with (the silver trophy).”

Competitors from across the world were challenged to come up with the best aerodynamic designs and techniques in three categories: longest distance, longest airtime, and aerobatics.

Planes can only be modified by folding – no ripping, gluing, cutting, stapling or weighting of the plane is permitted, and the event was monitored by Guinness Book of World Records’ officials.

Student paramedic Billy Smith, who studies at Sheffield Hallam University, came sixth in the longest airtime and competed dressed in a pair of Union Jack shorts with a faux six pack of muscles.

Billy Smith of Great Britain performs in Longest Airtime discipline during the Red Bull Paper Wings World Finals 2022 in Salzburg, Austria. (Red Bull Paper Wings)
Billy Smith of Great Britain performs in Longest Airtime discipline (Red Bull Paper Wings)

The 21-year-old even stepped up to keep the crowd entertained with his spontaneous dancing after the event space became overheated and the competition was briefly paused.

Mr Smith told PA: “They had to turn the aircon on so I couldn’t throw my plane… so I was stood in the middle trying to entertain the crowd, dancing away and doing all sorts.

“I haven’t got any muscles myself so I thought I would (wear) some fake ones – a six pack and some good pecs – to use it to my advantage.

“I (wanted to) distract everyone else so they didn’t throw as well in the competition.”

Connor Wynn, 25, from London, represented Great Britain in the aerobatics category and finished in seventh place.

Mr Wynn had 60 seconds to perform in front of three judges, including aviation star Dario Costa of Italy, whose record-setting “Tunnel Pass” flight went viral last year.

Mr Wynn told PA: “It felt amazing to represent Great Britain and just fly the flag out here.

“I’ve never represented Great Britain for anything… I’ve lost my voice from shouting and supporting (my teammates).

“Granted it’s paper planes and not the most athletic of sports, but there is still skill involved.

“The atmosphere was incredible all weekend, a proper electric atmosphere.”

Although he did not win, Mr Wynn’s performance left a mark on the judge Costa who was impressed by the Brit’s decision to perform dressed as the superhero Batman.

“I really wanted to have a selfie with Batman,” Costa told PA.

“It’s a shame my son was not here because he is a big fan of Batman and he would have loved it.

“The competitors are using paper planes which is something we all grew up with, especially when I look back to my childhood when I was dreaming of being a pilot.

Aerobatics winner Seunghoon Lee, from South Korea, proposed to his girlfriend after being crowned the champion.
Aerobatics winner Seunghoon Lee, from South Korea, proposed to his girlfriend after being crowned the champion (Red Bull Paper Wings)

“It is great that Red Bull is using this as a tool to bring together people from all over the world.”

Other highlights of the event saw aerobatics winner Seunghoon Lee, from South Korea, propose to his girlfriend after being crowned the champion.

Mr Lee, who was dressed in a black three-piece suit, got down on one knee in front of the packed crowd at Hanger 7, and asked his girlfriend to marry him, to which she said yes.

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