All posts by Veronica Timpane

T Minus 4 Weeks

Four weeks from now, we’ll be sitting in our hotel in Kansas after the first day of competition.

Today, we were frantically trying to finish final construction.  Fortunately, stress seems to improve our productivity!  Look at all the laser cutting!


Tomorrow we should have cool pictures of our actual planes, but right now they’re in a bunch of pieces because everything needs to fit under two three by five tables at the end of the day, which was especially hard today.   Productivity is messy.

In other words: T SHIRTS ARE HERE.


They’re cool.  Also, remember our cult like motto?


BAM.  We’re pleased with ourselves.  Hopefully we will be equally pleased with ourselves tomorrow when we’ve finished our planes.  Wish us luck!

Drinking the Kool-Aid

Strictly speaking, we’ve drunk the Gatorade, but with our new motto of “Semper Fly”, we’ve been accused of becoming a cult (Semi-Latin evidently equates to cult).    Anyway, here is our old friend the Gatorade bottle, which has been faithfully serving our club since we found out about this year’s challenge in September.  Unfortunately, it suffered damage in our series of drop tests (see last post for exciting videos!).  We thus drank it in celebration of our completion of the report ( #Reportarama2016 ), and will replace it with a newer model shortly.  We are also pleased to note that no one got food poisoning from drinking six-month old Gatorade.

Either way, having now finished our report, we will spend the rest of our year till competition in construction.  So far, good progress has been made- both fuselages are complete, as well as one set of wings.  With any luck, all prototype construction will be complete by next weekend, and we’ll start flying things around (which will mean more exciting videos!).  Until then, please enjoy some mid-construction pictures of our prototype.

Production Plane Wings- and the Gatorade shortly before it’s untimely demise.
Half of the Manufacturing Planes’s Fuselage. Is it huge? Yes, yes it is.

It Continues

We said we would be more active on this blog this year.  We lied.  Thus, we will now try to win you love back with a cool video! (At the end of this post.  It needs some context).

First, an update on last semester:

This year, the rules of competition changed slightly: in order to compete, a team had to submit a proposal by December 12th.  This accelerated our conceptual design phase considerably.  To prove this, here are some lovely conceptual images of our two planes:

The Gatorade Plane
The Gatorade Plane
The Container Plane
The Container Plane

Aren’t they pretty?  Evidently competition agrees with us, because they accepted our proposal and invited us to compete! SUCCESS.

That brings us to today.  The Gatorade Plane’s landing gear (as pictured above) was planned to go over the top of the plane.  This requires us to manufacture it ourselves, which we’ve realized we might not exactly have the equipment for.  Therefore, we thought we should give a different landing gear scheme a try, and test its viability by doing a drop test.

For anyone who hasn’t done a drop test before, its exactly what it sounds like: you load up your plane, drop it, and see what happens.  In our case:

This happened. Cool Video here.

So maybe it didn’t exactly go well. That being said, we dropped the plane from 4 ft, equating to a speed of roughly 11 mph on impact.  The height we should have dropped the plane from to meet the design impact speed for landing gear from the Code of Federal Regulations? 9 inches.

Lesson: we’re being a little excessive with our overachieving.  We also may need to look into laterally bracing our structures.  Tomorrow, we shall attempt the test from a more reasonable height.  Update you then!

It Begins

Hello airplane enthusiasts and welcome to the 2015-2016 Season!  Now that we’ve reclaimed access to our blog, we should become much more active.

Anyway, this year’s season is now in full swing.  We have a new executive board, new members, and a brand new challenge.  This year’s challenge requires the use of two planes, one called the production plane, which carries a 32 oz. Gatorade bottle.  The other plane then carries the production plane broken down into various sub-assemblies.  This should be a good challenge, and we’re really excited to see what we wind up doing.  Hopefully you, our readers, are as well.

Old and new members on our annual trip to the Intrepid last weekend.
Old and new members on our annual trip to the Intrepid last weekend.

The Year That Never Was

Some of you loyal followers may have noticed our complete lack of activity for the 2014-2015 Season.  My only excuse is that we were all too afraid to follow the mastery of our former blog runner after he graduated (and might have had issue finding the blog’s permissions).  Anyway, here’s what you missed on Columbia AIAA:

The 2014-2015 challenge was to construct a plane capable of carrying a 4″ x 5″ x 10″ block which weighed 5 lbs, and also capable of carrying wiffleballs, which were to be dropped off of the plane in a given zone, one per lap (this action, obviously, bears no resemblance to dropping bombs).

Construction of the Plane
Construction of the Plane

After a lot of consideration, we decided to design our plane to only carry one wiffleball, both because it would make flying the third mission easier (only one lap!) and because how quickly we could load and unload the block and wiffleballs was a multiplier on the rest of our score.

Also in an attempt to reduce our loading time, we decided to have a removable nose cone.  That prevented our usual single motor design, so we had dual motors on the plane instead.

Two motors means lots of electronics in the wing box.

After some testing and crashing in which we learned, among other things, that certain members of our team should not be allowed to video flight attempts, our plane was declared ready for competition.  We shipped it out and flew to Tuscon, Arizona to compete.

At competition in Tuscon, we had some issues, centrally the continued desire of our landing gear to part with the rest of the plane.  After a lot of rapid repair and four flight attempts, we made it through the first mission!  Despite never getting through the second (to fix our landing gear problem, we made the plane too heavy to take off in the required distance), we had a loading time of 16 seconds, which gave us a good enough multiplier to take 37th out of the 81 teams.  Success!

Our team and plane at competition!