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Durham NC Man Among First To Test Paper Airplane Drone

The PowerUp 3.0
PowerUp Toys

A Durham man is among the first in the country to test a new type of drone that can be made out folded paper. The device has a plastic propeller, an attached rudder, and is directed by an iPhone app.

The drone is called the PowerUp 3.0. It was created by Shai Goitein, a former Israeli Air Force pilot.

Goitein took his engineering idea to the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter last fall. He asked for $50,000 and received $1.2 million dollars.

Here's the original concept:

Fifty people are now beta testers for the prototype. The Wall Street Journal followed along as Durham's Chuck Pell tested the device:

DURHAM, N.C.—It took Chuck Pell less than a minute to build his drone. He folded a piece of paper 11 times, clipped on a battery-powered plastic propeller and rudder, then opened an app on his iPhone. Next he flung the aircraft skyward, steering it above the trees with turns of his phone. The plane soared out of sight. It's a good technology, according to Mr. Pell, who has suffered plenty of nose dives. It just "needs more pilot training." >> Read more


The kit costs 50 dollars. According to the story, the inventor has more plans in mind for the device.

With the extra funds, Mr. Goitein is adding a dogfight mode that lets one pilot shoot down an enemy paper plane with a Bluetooth signal that stops the rival's engine. The next-generation PowerUp will have a magnetometer, accelerometer and gyrometer, he said. Eventually, he said, "It'll definitely be a real drone." Users are adding their own innovations. Andre Bowen, an artist in Berlin, says he plans to 3-D print some airplane models to make them fly with the PowerUp. Zachary Read, a high-school junior from Flower Mound, Texas, is working on a PowerUp flying saucer, stealth bomber and F-16 fighter.

Read the Wall Street Journal article.

In related "drone" news, Planet Money recently produced an interesting multimedia story, "Who Owns The Air? The Fight Over Drones As Seen From A Drone."

Carol Jackson has been with WUNC since 2006. As Digital News Editor, she writes stories for, and helps reporters and hosts make digital versions of their radio stories. She is also responsible for sharing stories on social media. Previously, Carol spent eight years with WUNC's nationally syndicated show The Story with Dick Gordon, serving as Managing Editor and Interim Senior Producer.
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