GeekDad Puzzle of the Week – Paper Planes

Geek Culture

This past weekend, our family has had an amazing time up in a north Georgia cabin. One of the many activities we got to enjoy with the kids was researching, folding, and then flying paper airplanes.


From the topmost balcony on the cabin (three stories up!) both Max and Nora achieved great distances with their throws. This led to an interesting question: Could a paper airplane be thrown so far that it went around the world?

This week’s puzzle deals with airplanes circumnavigating the globe. Imagine an airplane that, by itself and fully fueled, could fly exactly half way around the world. This amazing plane can give and receive any amount of its fuel in mid-air instantly, can turn on a time, but can only take off and land at a single airport where it can also refuel.

Now imagine a fleet of these airplanes.

This week’s GeekDad Puzzle of the Week: Could a fleet of such airplanes, transferring fuel as appropriate, circumnavigate the globe? If not, why not? If so, how many planes would it take, and how could they accomplish such a feat?

Note that we want a repeatable process, so no planes can crash mid trip, and while the planes can’t glide they can land perfectly well using their last few atoms of fuel.

As always, please submit your responses to GeekDad Central. All reasonably well-reasoned responses will be put into a random draft for this week’s glorious prize: a $50 Gift Certificate from the fine folks at ThinkGeek.

Good luck, and happy puzzling!

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