Get to know the Judges

Peggy Walentin, Ken Blackburn and John Collins introduce themself in a short interview

Zach King: “I'm excited to be flying to Salzburg, Austria to judge aerobatics at the paper airplane world finals on May 9th!”


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Judge Walentin: “Less dangerous but equally demanding”

Peggy Walentin is extraordinary, in every sense of the word. An accomplished pilot, she has also been a wing walker, defying gravity by stepping onto the wings of planes in full flight for more than 15 years. Now she will be a judge at Red Bull Paper Wings World Finals 2015. Less dangerous but equally demanding, she says.

You are a daredevil, a wing walker who has been doing this for the better part of two decades. How does it feel to judge a competition like Red Bull Paper Wings with your feet firmly on the ground?
I’m very proud to be a part of the judges for this very special aviation event. As I have seen at the German Final in Friedrichshafen, there are unbelievable ideas and constructions from the aerobatic paper wing pilots and maybe a start for one or the other to start a pilot career!

What are you looking forward to seeing? What do you expect from the competition?
Especially at the aerobatic category I think we will see very funny, unique and inventive constructions and performances. All the paper wing pilots are full of ideas and I am sure we will be astonished by what they can do with a piece of paper!

How does this relate to what you do as a job?
Both are special, you must be well prepared and concentrated at the point to be best.

What makes Hangar-7 the ideal location for this event?
A special place, full of aviation history, there is no better place for the best of the Red Bull Paper Wings Aviators!

Ken Blackburn – Living Legend of Paper Planes

Ken is a former world record holder for the longest airtime, clocking more than 27 seconds. An aeronautical engineer by profession Ken has been a paper plane enthusiast since a young kid. He is also back to judge the best competitors at the Red Bull Paper Wings World Final 2015.

You are a legend among paper plane enthusiasts and coming back to the Red Bull Paper Wings World Finals 2015 as a judge. What do you expect from this year's competition and what would you like to see?
As in past finals, I expect to see some of the longest paper airplane flights and some of the best paper airplane aerobatics in the world! I hope to see original paper airplanes and creative flying techniques. I am always impressed with the airplanes and creativeness of these champions.

What can we expect as far as new designs, new ideas?
This is one of the great things about Red Bull Paper Wings – no matter what I think these pilots will design, I am always surprised. The sky is the limit!

You have been a judge before. what makes Red Bull Paper Wings so special?
First I am impressed with the talent. Not only are the judges among the paper airplane elite, the contestants are the real stars of the show – filled with raw talent and energy to lead the next generation of paper airplane pilots. Second I am impressed with the uniting of so many countries and cultures – it gives me great hope for our mutual future. This event brings these people together physically for a few days, but in spirit for a lifetime.

What makes Hangar-7 the ideal location for this event?
There is no better place in the world! Hanger-7 is a work of art, and an amazing venue for a paper airplane contest, with the Austrian Alps creating a picturesque background. Now add the best paper airplane pilots in the world. This is certainly a utopia for paper airplane pilots.

John Collins: “There is always an undiscovered superstar”

John Collins is a household name among paper plane throwers. A world record holder and returning Red Bull Paper Wings judge, John talks about his expectations of the 2015 World Final and the unique atmosphere of this event.

You are a legend among paper plane enthusiasts and coming back to the Red Bull Paper Wings World Finals as a judge. What do you expect from this year's competition and what would you like to see?
Every contest brings out fresh new faces, rounded up from college campuses all over the world. These are the Top Guns, and they’re coming to Salzburg to “throw down”. Paper airplanes have garnered global media attention since Red Bull Paper Wings took place for the first time in 2006.

What can we expect as far as new designs, new ideas?
The variety of stunts and designs in aerobatics was jaw-dropping last time. I can’t wait to see what the returning champions will do this time to top themselves. And of course, there’s always an undiscovered superstar waiting to put on a breakthrough performance. The two way tie for first place in 2012 really showed the ferocity of the competition. I would expect to see more “Follow Foil” or “Walk Along Wing” designs. I think the competitors will get better at telling the judges, in advance, what their planes will do; while leaving room for surprises.

You have been a judge before. what makes Red Bull Paper Wings so special?
I think it is unique in the way it allows so many people to compete on a global scale. When you see all of the countries come together for an event like this, it’s a hopeful thing. It is all about excitement and adrenaline. The events create a mix of brute force, expertise, and spectacle. It’s classic paper airplane throwing.

What makes Hangar-7 the ideal location for this event?
Hangar-7 tells the competitors “this just got real”. The reverence for flight is everywhere inside and out. The vintage planes, the modern sleek aerobatic aircraft, and the hangar design tell everyone this is a celebration of aviation. Flying machines large and small partake of the same miracle of defying gravity. Hangar-7 brings it home.