Without even looking at the calendar, Marietta resident Kevin Lamb knows when it's time for the Great Community Paper Airplane Contest.
"A week before, they're (paper airplanes) flying around the house," said Lamb, a member of the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Marietta, where the contest will be held.
Lamb's sons - David, 7, and Andrew, 4 - have participated in the contest for the past few years, and they plan to be there again this year.
How to make a paper airplane
"They get excited about the idea of making the different airplanes and being given license to say, 'Hey, we can throw paper airplanes inside and see them go someplace.' They have a lot of fun," he said. "It's a fun time and a neat way for kids to do something that's a little bit different and for the community to come together in a way that's really enjoyable."
This year's contest is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 27, and will likely last an hour-and-a-half to two hours. Roger Kalter, a coordinator of the event, said it has been held for 29 years and it draws people of all ages.
"The younger ones may get into it more ... but I know we've had 65- and 70-year-olds involved before," he said. "As many as 85 people participate some years."
Kalter said participants are divided into several different groups according to their age and they launch the airplanes from the church's choir loft. Participants then try to top each other in three categories - accuracy, time aloft and furthest flight.
"Volunteers help us track all that stuff," he said.
According to the Guinness World Records website, www.guinnessworldrecords.com, the record for the longest flight duration for a hand-launched paper aircraft is 27.9 seconds. It was set in Japan in April 2009 by Takuo Toda.
If you go:
What: 29th annual Great Community Paper Airplane Contest.
Where: First Unitarian Universalist Church, 232 Third St., Marietta.
When: 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 27.
Pre-registration is not required.
All participants are asked to bring a non-perishable food item, money or clothing to be donated to the Old Man Rivers Mission in Parkersburg.
Making "The Arrow" paper
1. Fold a sheet of paper exactly in half longways, and reopen it so there is a crease separating the two halves.
2. On one end of the paper, fold each corner in toward the center to the point where the inside edges are even with the centerline crease.
3. Starting at the very tip of the point, fold the paper down on each side so the inside edges line up with the center crease.
4. Turn the paper airplane over and fold it in half along the centerline.
5. Fold the first wing with the line of the fold running nearly parallel to the centerline of the plane. Make this fold from half an inch to 1 inch from the center.
6. Fold the second wing exactly as the first was folded.
Parkersburg resident John Maddox, another coordinator of the event, said people can bring their own paper airplanes to the church or they can make them when they arrive.
"There are paper airplane books that come out with hundreds of different types of airplanes you can use, and some people create and color them and bring them in, and some people slap one together in 3 to 5 minutes," he said, noting that there will be material available at the church to make the airplanes.
Lamb said when it comes time for David and Andrew to make their planes, they refer to guides.
"We have some other friends in the community that have done this for years upon years, and they have books," he said.
Kalter pointed out that while the paper airplanes can be decorated, they must be made with only paper. Items such as paper clips cannot be attached to them to add weight.
While the event is meant to be enjoyable for all involved, it also aims to help out the Old Man Rivers Mission in Parkersburg. Maddox said clothing and monetary donations will be accepted at the contest for the organization, and donations of non-perishable food items would be particularly helpful.
Maddox said everyone who participates in the contest takes home a prize, as well as a certificate acknowledging their participation, but the event is more about bringing families together than winning prizes.
"Once they come in and realize what's going on, it brings out the child in them," he said. "We want them to experience something as a family or a group because we're making memories is what we're doing."