There’s a grace to a paper airplane that one made out of wood or plastic can’t match. It’s the fact that you’re taking a plain sheet of paper and turning it into an aerodynamic construct that holds the dream of flight. That was good enough for baby boomers, but today it’s all about apps and smartphones and high-tech. So why shouldn’t paper airplanes join in? If they’ve got the PowerUp Dart inside, they can.
The PowerUp Dart continues PowerUp Toys tradition of creating smartphone-controlled paper airplanes. The Dart itself looks like a thin plastic stick with a fat module at one end and a propeller at the back end. But looks can be deceiving because it’s made from a carbon fiber and nylons body that is nearly indestructible. That’s a really good thing because while launching a paper airplane can be hand-controlled, guiding it safely and landing it safely takes a bit of practice to pull off. Try, try, try again is fine if what you’re flying will hold up to the wear and tear — which the paper airplane itself probably won’t over time — but the all-important “motor” that is the Dart will.
Instructions are provided for making various paper airplanes and of course for positioning the Dart in place. The iOS/Android app works by connecting to the Dart through Bluetooth, using a gamepad-like interface that most will find both convenient and intuitive (gamers especially so since using the phone to move the wings is really a lot like the high gotten when moving the controller back/forth while crazily pumping buttons). Since the Dart can drive the paper airplane at speeds of up to 25mph, there’s more than enough “oomph” being generated (especially when hitting “Boost”) to perform classic and complicated tricks, from tight banking to flips, barrel rolls and loop-the-loop (for those wondering about the mechanics – the Dart is operating courtesy of a rear propulsion direct drive for speed and pitch up, with a magnetic proportional rudder handling the roll and yaw).
Now all this is going on within a range of 200+ feet; being more than enough room for flexing one’s “wings.” Flight time is approximately 10 minutes, with recharging the batteries needing slightly less than a 1/2 hour. And with plenty of YouTube/etc. videos to watch, time spent watching to see what to do and what not to do will pay off handsomely. Because doing aerobatics is the whole reason for flying and since the Dart is small it can make its way indoors without a guaranteed smash up to the nearest wall.
The PowerUp Dart retails for $49.99 and even includes landing gear for those really looking to stretch their imagination. Plus its size is such as to avoid the whole FAA drone registration issues — hey, it’s not a drone, it’s a paper airplane!