Ever wonder what makes a boomerang fly? World champion thrower Logan Broadbent says it’s pretty simple.
“Basically the best way to think of it is that each wing is an airplane wing,” he says. “The top side is curved and the bottom side is relatively flat and that shape allows the boomerang to generate lift. But a boomerang is thrown vertically so the directional lift is to the side, unlike an airplane flying horizontal where the directional lift is up in the air. So you throw it nice and vertical, straight up and down, it’ll curve around and come back.”
Broadbent, a former boomerang trick shot champion, first joined the US Boomerang team at age 14, and currently ranks number two in the world. Broadbent is also the Boomerang Ninja on the TV show American Ninja Warrior.
Competitive boomerang throwers take part in different events. They can compete for the longest distance flown to the maximum time in the air. There’s also an event called “fast catch” in which the first person to catch five throws wins. One of the toughest parts about competitive throwing is adjusting to changing conditions, Broadbent says. He makes most of his own boomerangs and uses a number of hacks and tricks to gin up his performance—from material selection to modifications that add weight and spin to his throws.
“If I want to add drag to help slow down the spin rate in higher wind conditions, I may add a couple rubber bands on there,” he says. “If I want to add a little more weight to get it to go further, to stay more vertical in flight or even to lay out quicker, I may add pennies on each one of these wings.”
Watch the video above to see Broadbent in action and to hear much more about boomeranging.