Kite and Rocket Flying Business Cards

It’s small, but once you remove the perforated areas, unfold the wings, and toss it — it flies. By testing a variety of papers and exploring multiple designs, several successful flying prototypes emerged that give the common business card new purpose.

There are a variety of novelty flying business cards available online, and a cursory survey revealed two types: one, a miniature laser-cut version of the famous balsa wood glider; and the other, a folded and tabbed construction that required a paperclip or dime for nose weight. Neither, from my point of view, fly particularly well.

I did not want to duplicate these designs nor did Kite and Rocket want an off-the-shelf promotional card. Thus, the design process began with many pages of concept sketches and rough prototyping. I quickly discovered that a two by three-and-a-half-inch business card did not provide adequate wing area to fly properly. Instead, a double-size card folded in half functioned better. A double center fold served as a bottom fin, not unlike a hanging center fin on a conventional paper airplane. But while the double-size card provided adequate wing area, it restricted the length of the plane from front to back, and the designs did not fly stably as longer sleek paper airplanes do.

This shortcoming was overcome by folding the wings one extra time toward the wing tips and embedding tiny weights in the nose. Hundreds of designs were created, cut, weighted, and tested, and soon, it was possible to narrow down a formula for folds, weights, and plane proportions. This allowed Kite and Rocket to choose plane shapes that they thought best suited their personality. The designs afforded some highly unusual concepts that flew very well, but did not necessarily conform to the look of an airplane, paper or otherwise. Kite and Rocket opted for the look of a fighter jet.

Once the plane’s aesthetic was finalized, graphics were developed to apply to the top side of the card. The contact information was placed on the back with the Kite and Rocket URL featured on the center spine. While the prototypes were hand-cut and laser-cut, the finals were silk screened on highly-saturated orange paper, die-cut, and hand-assembled with weights.