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Saturday, September 13, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Teen's paper-plane flight exceeds 207 feet — and the world record

Who: Stephen Kreiger, a 15-year-old Bellevue boy who threw a paper airplane more than 207 feet indoors, farther than the current world record.

What: Kreiger accomplished the feat last Saturday in an airplane hangar in Moses Lake, using a plane he designed. His strengths in math and science — the home-schooled sophomore is taking advanced-placement chemistry and advanced-placement calculus part time at Sammamish High School — helped along the way.

Path to the record: Four years ago, Kreiger made breaking the world record a goal — an unreachable one, he thought. Then, two years ago, one of his planes traveled 120 feet — two-thirds of the world record.

"It was kind of a freak of nature," he said of the plane. "It came out of the blue."

Record-shattering design: The plane design is simple, described as "nothing fancy," although it took him months to perfect. Made of basic copy paper, it has three long, narrow wings of equal size. Kreiger has named it "Sorolhach" (taken from a J.R.R. Tolkien fantasy language), or Flaming Eagle.

"The object is to get a lot of weight on the nose and reduce drag so it's as efficient as possible," he said. What's the exact folding pattern? "That's classified at this point," he said.

Early handicap: Minutes before Kreiger began his official throws Saturday, an injury during a few practice tosses for the cameras almost ruined his chances.

"He snapped his arm and it kind of tweaked his elbow," said his mother, Debbie Kreiger.

Kreiger shook off the injury and broke the record with his first official throw — with about 50 friends, family and community members watching.

"No one really knew what happened at first," Kreiger said. The plane traveled so fast, only his father, at the other end of the old B-52 hangar where he performed the tosses, knew what had happened. "All of a sudden, he yelled, 'Yeah!' " Kreiger said. "Everyone there started cheering. I was really happy."

The stats: Kreiger's throw of 207 feet 4 inches is farther than the current world record of 193 feet, set in 1985, according to the Paper Aircraft Association Web site.

What's next: Kreiger must now compile a packet of information, from videos of the flight to eyewitness accounts, for Guinness World Records officials to review. The path to recognition could take weeks, but Kreiger, his family and friends there that day already consider him the world-record holder. Meanwhile, Kreiger has set his sights on beating the world record for the longest time a paper airplane stays in the air.

— Maria Gonzalez

Copyright © 2003 The Seattle Times Company

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