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THE ENDURING BEAUTY OF FLIGHT

December 15, 2016

Homo erectus marveled at birds, but never really understood them.

That’s because in caveman times, if something had nothing underneath it—nothing to support it—it would typically just fall to the ground. If you dropped a rock, for example, it would land on your toe. That would hurt, so you learned pretty quickly not to do that. (Dropping a rock on a buddy’s toe, however, was a classic fireside prank.)

Birds were different. Somehow, with no visible means of support, they remained aloft—at least until you nailed one, mid-flight, with a flintstone to the skull. But that was like picking up a 7-10 spare; it was a lot easier just to eat larvae off a stick.

Sometimes, too, a single, downy feather would wriggle loose in flight, and would gently make its way to earth—looping, drifting, dancing, and inspiring the ancient ancestors of Sam Mendes.

Yes, there was something magical about birds...about slipping Earth’s bonds...about defying gravity.

In honor of our forebears, and in recognition of the beauty of flight, Ashton Tiffany stages a paper airplane contest every December. It takes place indoors at our main campus, just outside the elevator doors on the third floor. Planes vault into the open air of the building atrium, evoking images of O’Hare at Thanksgiving.

There are prizes for distance and accuracy. There are magnificent design innovations. There are feats of aerobatic majesty. And of course, there are tragic launch pad accidents.

But whether one’s airplane caresses the clouds like an eagle’s wings, or is as dirtbound as a kiwi, the idea is to experience a little primordial joy. It’s one of the many ways we at Ashton Tiffany keep work from becoming a four-letter word.

(Below, your 2016 champions: Keith Oarde [distance] and Jacquie Glasgow [accuracy])

Keith Oarde and Jacquie Glasgow