Aeroplanes are indecipherable to most of us. They loom, like giant birds above us, ploughing through the sky like a tank through a garden fence. Unlike most of the people who read this site (I imagine), I don’t know how planes work. I even visited an exhibition about the Wright Brothers (in Rockford, Illinois) and came away none the wiser, despite there being an exact replica of the Wright Flyer II there, accompanied by a detailed diagram that let the visitor know exactly how the thing worked. “Whatever”, I thought, “it’s witchcraft”. I still feel like Conan O’Brien in his 1860s baseball re-enactment sketch, shouting “What ho! What is that demonry?” at a passing plane.
That’s why the simple, uncomplicated paper plane is my favourite form of flying vehicle [not usually used as vehicle- Ed]. They make sense to me, though I can barely fashion one myself. I know what they are made of and they travel at a speed I can understand. They are aerodynamic, a word I do not properly understand. Perhaps it is a memory of lost innocence although, to be honest, my school days weren’t full of carefree paper plane flying. That kind of thing seems to only exist in the pages of Just William but maybe we have a collective consciousness that, when faced with something like a paper plane, evokes happy schoolyard days. I can’t tell you too much about that but I can tell you that if I saw a paper plane now, well, I just might smile. Smile, and then cry for a childhood I never had.
Oscar Rickett writes regularly for Vice and has written for The Observer, The Sunday Times and Time Out, among others. You can read some of his articles here http://www.vice.com/en_uk/author/oscar-rickett and follow him on Twitter here https://twitter.com/oscarrickettnow
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