Can’t Fly Me Love

I have resorted to aerospace engineering/British pop music crossover puns. Is nothing sacred?

First, you should watch this hysterical video of the disastrous first flight of our prototype plane. We were young and foolish then. [vimeo][/vimeo]

Seriously, we have come a long way this year. The final results are still being tabulated, but we expect to be 17th out of over 80 teams. This is a good 25+ places higher than last year. Considering that many of the other teams come from large engineering schools with actual aerospace departments, we are extremely happy with our improvement.

We met two, three, even four times a week all year. Rain or shine, midterms or Mondays, we worked anyway. The effort paid off, because our plane stood its ground against fearsome winds for all of its missions and came back for more. It was a bit on the heavy side, but that worked in our favor to keep it steady during rough conditions. Our brand new motor, supplied with 450+ W, had power in spades. Although its structural integrity was never tested by a crash or even a rough landing, we were very confident in our fuselage’s construction–a plywood frame with carbon fiber reinforcements in key areas.

All three flight tasks and the ground taxi mission were completed without a single crash. The only  repair we ever made was straightening out the rear landing gear after it bent. Our equipment worked so well, in fact, we found ourselves lending our transmitter to other teams, helping a rookie UC Berkeley team with their plane (THEY COMPLETED MISSIONS THEIR FIRST YEAR WOO CONGRATS), and passing out spare parts when needed.

That was probably my favorite part of the event, that it was more of an exhibition than a competition. It was a great chance to see teams of young engineers from around the world take different approaches to the same problems, and share solutions freely to help each other improve. Everyone wanted everyone to do well. Combine this with AIAA’s great organization of the event (now in its 18th year, so they’ve had some practice!), and we all had a tremendous weekend.

Summary: LIKE A BOSS

I’ve tried to avoid talking about myself too much on this blog, but I’m about to graduate and have to leave this team FOREVER AND EVER and I’m glad to be doing so on a high note. Two years ago, we didn’t even get to fly because of a tornado warning.

Side note, have another amusing video, this time of our foam practice plane being blown away in the windstorm that year:


Last year, we flew twice, but with serious electrical problems that caused devastating crashes. Ultimately our plane was too badly mangled to try flying on the last day. This year, we didn’t have to put a single screw back in place (although we did get lost trying to drive half a mile from Chipotle to our hotel). And I couldn’t be more proud of all our progress.