Billy Smith, 21, from Sheffield Hallam University nabbed first place at the national final in the longest flight category, as his plane stayed in the air for 7.74 seconds.

De Montfort University Leicester student Yicheng Sun won in the distance category, throwing 48.21 metres.

The Red Bull Paper Wings event at Alexandra Palace in north London sees both men qualify for the world final at Hangar 7 in Salzburg, Austria in May, which will also be monitored by Guinness Book of World Records’ officials.

They beat more than 45 paper plane pilots, each equipped with a plain sheet of A4 paper.

Planes can only be modified by folding – no ripping, gluing, cutting, stapling or weighting of the plane is permitted.

The challenge is to come up with the best aerodynamic designs and techniques, taking into consideration the angles, lift, centre and tail of the plane, and folding it as precisely as possible.

Mr Smith, who is studying to be a paramedic, said he was “so happy” with the win.

“I’m so happy I’ve qualified for the world final of Red Bull Paper Wings in Austria, representing the UK in the competition,” he said.

“I am going to be refining my paper plane-making skills and strategy ahead of the world final.”