Interview: Dylan Parker of The Paper Pilots from Australian film Paper Planes


In light of the release of Australian film Paper Planes on DVD and Blu-Ray, Rachel Sibley spoke to Dylan Parker of the Paper Pilots about their job, their role in the film, and the art of perfecting the paper plane.

How did you each get into Paper Plane throwing?

I threw paper planes as a young boy after Mum bought me a book of paper planes based on Leonardo Da Vinci’s flying inventions, I even went through all of the scrap paper in my house and had to do chores to afford to buy more paper! James threw planes up the back of church and could even beat some of the adults who tried their hand at throwing! James and I met at a paper plane contest when they were in our 20’s at the University of Canberra trying to qualify for the World Championships in 2008 so have been making planes for many years!

Do you make paper planes as well? Has your paper plane design that you used changeover time? Does each thrower have a differently designed plane?

My planes all focus around ‘distance’ and throwing the furthest but James designs planes for the ‘time aloft’ category. Over the years we have gotten better at folding and designing more complex planes including some that don’t even look like planes like ‘The Manta Ray’ or even ‘The Swimming Dog’!

You met in Austria during a competition, where else have you both travelled for paper plane throwing? 

We’ve travelled all over Australia throwing planes!!! From NSW to Victoria to Western Australia and even Queensland. Our favourite paper plane destination though has to be Sydney where we got to throw planes from the lighting booth in the Sydney Opera House, now that’s something to sing about! A close second favourite has to be Melbourne where we helped artist ‘Ross Coulter’ throw over 10,000 paper planes at once in the La Trobe Reading Dome. It was fun but took a long time to clean up!

How do you work on improving your skills? 

As ‘Paper Pilots’ we need to be in peak physical condition so we practice folding every day as well as training our bodies to be strong and agile by competing in triathlons, bike races and even running marathons! Our favourite kind of training though is ‘throwing training’ where we practice our chosen categories ‘distance’ and ‘time aloft’ trying to better our personal records!

What sort of role did you have in the film? 

We had loads of fun working on the set of Paper Planes! We were official ‘Paper Plane Consultants’ and designed all of the planes you see in the movie! We had to train the actors in the art of paper plane folding and throwing and even had a folding race at the end of filming to see how good they had become (we nearly lost to Nicholas Bakopoulos-Cooke who played Jason in the film!).

How did you feel seeing the film?

We were so happy that we couldn’t stop smiling and high-fiving. We had front row seats at the premier and couldn’t help but throw paper planes into the audience. We got to meet lots of famous people and fold planes afterwards with all of the actors and crew!


Paper Planes is released on DVD and Blu-Ray in Australia today. 


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