S&T’s Advanced Aero Vehicle Group to compete

AAVG members construct the wings of the plane. Photo by Sam O'Keefe, Missouri S&T.

AAVG members construct the wings of the plane. Photo by Sam O’Keefe, Missouri S&T.

A team of students from Missouri University of Science and Technology will fly a student-designed and -built 8.3-pound airplane 100 feet into the air and drop a small sandbag onto a target as part of the Society of Automotive Engineers’ annual Aero Design West Competition.

The Aero Design West Competition will be held Friday, March 28, through Sunday, March 30, at the Fort Worth Thunderbirds Flying Field in Fort Worth, Texas. S&T’s Advanced Aero Vehicle Group will compete with more than 50 collegiate teams from around the world.

There are four main components to this year’s competition. Students must present a technical design to SAE and Lockheed Martin for review and pass a technical inspection of their aircraft on Friday, March 28. The team will fly its plane once on Saturday, March 29, and again on Sunday, March 30.

The team’s flight objective is to use its plane to carry a 3-pound “simulated humanitarian aid package,” a sandbag, which must be dropped on a fixed target on the ground. Scoring for this event is based on the sandbag’s proximity to the target.

The plane has a 9.5-foot wingspan, an increase of 1 foot from last year’s build. During flight, electronics on the plane will transmit real-time altitude and first-person-view video. Students will use this data to direct the pilot as he lines up to drop the sandbag, which is automatically calculated through onboard GPS. This year, in the event of a crash that would prevent the plane from flying, team members constructed a secondary plane.

Dr. Walter Eversman, Curators’ Professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at S&T, is the AAVG team advisor and Brandon Coleman, a senior in aerospace engineering from Raymore, Mo., is the team’s president. There are more than 50 S&T students on the team.