CAP Breaks Guinness World Record for Highest Paper Airplane Flight

On Saturday, September 13, 2014, Fox Valley Composite Squadron of the Illinois Wing, Civil Air Patrol, launched their FVCS-5 near-space balloon into the Guinness Book of World Records -- well.. unofficially for now until application and corroborating evidence are officially vetted -- setting a new world record for "Highest Paper Airplane Flight from High Altitude Balloon" (see the official Press Release below). This is an especially amazing accomplishment considering it was completely designed and constructed by our cadets and funded entirely by our squadron's own fundraising efforts and a grant from the Air Force Association (AFA). What a great experience for our cadets.

 Preliminary flight statistics: 

  • LAUNCH: 2014-09-13 11:14:59 @ Kankakee Airport (3KK), Kankakee, Illinois
  • BURST\PEAK: 2014-09-13 12:53:58 @ 96,537 feet
  • LANDING: 2014-09-13 13:20:58 @ N41°2.23\W086°20.4 (exact landing coordinates), Rochester, Indiana
  • TOTAL FLIGHT: 02:06:59 h/m/s, 81.9 Statute Miles (straight-line distance)
  • ASCENT: 01:39:59 h/m/s, ~957 FPM AVG
  • DESCENT: 00:27:00 h/m/s, ~3,500 FPM AVG

All of the data above was acquired via GPS. The GPS datasource and track (as recorded via the Ham Radio APRS Network) can be viewed at:!mt=roadmap&z=9&call=a%2FWA9CAP-11&timerange=10800&tail=10800An onboard HD nose-camera was mounted on the aircraft and we have successfully recovered. Editing of the video is in-progress and will be posted as soon as it's complete. Media will have full broadcast rights to that published video. You can watch the abbreviated recording on the online broadcast of the launch at: details, photos and video (especially the onboard HD video) will be posted here as soon as they are received, reviewed and approved. All material on this page may be used by the Media/Press for publication and broadcast.



25 SEP 2014 UPDATE: Video clips from the HD (720p) nose-camera aboard the paper airplane have been released and are available for general public/media use at:





Here are some links to the media coverage we've been receiving as a result of this achievement:

The official Press Release is available at: more information, please contact 1st Lt Gary Brown @ 630-660-8231 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

PHOTOS FROM THE FLIGHT -- Press/Media Granted Permission to Use for Publication/Broadcast

Near Space Balloon Project Videos

Fox Valley Composite Squadron now has an official YOUTUBE.COM channel where we will be posting videos of our progress with our Near-Space Balloon Project. You can view the channel at:


Highest Paper Airplane Flight from High Altitude Balloon Attempt (September 13, 2014)

WHO: Fox Valley Composite Squadron, Civil Air Patrol
WHAT: Guinness World Record attempt for Highest Paper Airplane Flight from High Altitude Balloon
WHEN: Saturday, September 13, 2914 @ 9:00 AM (rain-date: Sunday, September 14, 2014)
WHERE: The public and press are invited to attend the event in-person or online:

For more details see the Press Release below.


Launch Weather & Flight Path Prediction (UPDATED 9/12/14 7:20 AM)

WEATHER: Weather is looking favorable at the launch site (Kankakee Airport, 3KK); but there is a slight risk that some heavy weather may linger in the morning hours downrange in the predicted landing area in central Indiana. For details, consults the links below...

SOLAR STORM UPDATE: We're keeping a sharp eye on the Coronal Mass Ejection (CME), aka "Solar Flare", that erupted from the Sun this week and it due to impact Earth Thursday, Friday and Saturday -- with the bulk of the energy forecast to hit on Friday ( -- to insure that our GPS and VHF tracking signals are not impacted. We'll make an official GO/NO-GO decision about the launch after we observe the solar storm activity and reports on Friday.
FLIGHT FORECAST: Here's a depiction of the latest flight forecast...

To view the very latest flight forecast for our balloon and paper airplane (accounting for the latest winds aloft forecasts), you can visit this forecasting site:!/uuid=d3bd849c45e7efa9b2495b6dc08e4a3ddbfff4c3

The flight forecast (above) was partially derived from these balloon performance figures from the manufacturer (below)...



Public & Media Invited to Civil Air Patrol’s Third Attempt at Guinness World Record
for World’s Highest Paper Airplane Flight on Saturday, September 13, 2014

WEST CHICAGO, IL – Nine months after nearly breaking a Guinness World Record, Fox Valley Composite Squadron (the local unit of the Civil Air Patrol [CAP]), is hoping that the old adage “third time is a charm” holds true as they make their third attempt at world’s highest paper airplane flight from a high-altitude balloon. The public and media are invited to witness the attempt on Saturday, September 13, 2014 (alternate “rain-date” is Sunday, September 14, 2014) at the “Mission Control”, CAP Illinois Wing Headquarters (DuPage Airport), 32W581 Tower Road, West Chicago, IL 60185 or at the “Launch Site”, Kankakee Airport (3KK), 1520 South State Route 115, Kankakee, IL 60901. Launch preparations begin at 9:00 AM and the lift-off of the high-altitude balloon is planned around 10:00 AM.

The squadron embarked on the project as a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) experience for their cadets (youths ages 12-18) and, on their second attempt last December, the squadron launched a custom-built 28-inch paper aircraft -- carrying a payload that included two high-definition video cameras and a GPS tracking system – attached to a large, latex weather balloon. But, as the balloon ascended through an altitude of 85,153 feet, it experienced a premature burst – just shy of the current 89,591 foot record – sending their paper airplane gliding back to Earth earlier than planned. Further adding to this setback, during the paper airplane’s descent, the real-time GPS reporting system stopped updating it coordinates (around 54,981 feet) making it next-to-impossible to pin-point the landing site of the aircraft.

Attempts to reacquire the signal by air and ground were unsuccessful and the paper airplane was considered officially lost. The project team feared it may never be recovered. But, instead of giving up, they turned to their CAP Search & Rescue skills and, using what little flight and weather data was available, they forecasted a probable landing area. Utilizing this new information, they planned more focused recovery effort and simultaneously launched a media campaign in the area by offering a reward for any residents who might stumble upon the paper airplane on their property. Fast forward to April this year and those efforts were rewarded when a farmer in Breman, Indiana -- right where the squadron forecasted it likely landed – discovered the paper airplane while preparing their fields for the new farming season.

The recovery of the paper airplane’s flight data and on-board HD video allowed the project team to diagnose the issues with the airframe and design then build an improved launch vehicle and paper airplane with an enhanced electronic tracking\recovery system. These refinements have the team targeting a 100,000 foot altitude (19 miles up in the Stratosphere, above 99% of the Earth’s atmosphere in what’s known as “near-space”) to release the paper airplane for its record breaking flight back to terra-firma. More details, photos, videos and a link to the live online broadcast of the launch are available on the Fox Valley Composite Squadron’s Near-Space Balloon Project website at:

Fox Valley Composite Squadron -- the local unit of the Civil Air Patrol -- is located at DuPage Airport (West Chicago, IL) and is currently comprised of 41 Cadets (youth 12-18) and 49 Adult Members. These members volunteer their time and expertise towards Emergency Services, Aerospace Education and Cadet Programs. The Squadron meets most Fridays at 7:00 PM at DuPage Airport and welcomes anyone interested in learning more about participation to attend a meeting. A map to the meeting location and additional information about the squadron is available at

Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with 60,000 members nationwide, operating a fleet of 550 aircraft. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs about 85 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 70 lives annually. Its unpaid professionals also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 23,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet programs. Performing missions for America for over 70 years, CAP will receive the Congressional Gold Medal in 2015 in honor of the heroic efforts of its World War II veterans. CAP also participates in Wreaths Across America, an initiative to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices of U.S. military veterans. Visit, and for more information.


1st LT Gary Brown
Near-Space Balloon Project Manager
PHONE: (630) 660-8231
EMAIL: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



1.) CAP Cadet Devin Riley display his paper airplane design chosen for the third world record attempt.

2.) CAP Cadets and senior officers inflate the large weather balloon during the squadron’s first attempt at the world record.
PHOTO CREDIT: 2nd Lt Paul McKneight