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First Year Aerospace Students Design and Fly Their Own Planes

The winning team “The Hindenburg” with their trophy

20 November 2017

Teams of first-year aerospace engineering students designed and built their own planes for a flying competition. The task was to build a plane that would fly as slowly as possible around a pole, a challenge requiring a light-weight, and efficient aircraft design. Each team was given the same basic components, including balsa wood and a 5V motor with propeller, but the final designs could not be more different: from tri-planes to ultra-light gliders, and even an attempt at a hovercraft!

After 3 weeks of flight trials, 5 tutor groups competed in the final fly-off. It was a tight competition, but in the end team “The Hindenburg” edged ahead, and flew slightly slower than their competitors. Other teams were awarded prizes for best construction, and most innovative design. By designing and building their plane, the students learned about several key concepts of aircraft design, such as the importance of weight and balance, and careful trimming to achieve stable flight.

Later this year the students will study the theory of flight and aircraft design in the Aeronautics unit, and learn why their planes were successful.

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