Lifting heavy, flying high

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On January 27, 2004

Weighing in at 35 pounds, the UMR Advanced Aero Vehicle Group’s radio-controlled aircraft is no lightweight when it comes to the Society of Automotive Engineers’ annual "heavy lift" competition. The plane lifted twice its weight in last year’s Aero Design East competition, giving the team its first-ever national championship last May.

Advanced Aero Vehicle Group students work on their aircraft.

The AAVG finished first out of five entries in its class, successfully carrying more than 70 pounds, at the Society of Automotive Engineers’ Aero Design East Competition, one of two international "heavy lift" competitions sponsored by SAE. The event was held May 2-4 in Dayton, Ohio.

The competition requires student teams to design and build radio-controlled aircraft that can take off and land while carrying a maximum weight of cargo. The planes must comply with stringent design specifications.

"Our goal of forming student teams such as the AAVG is to open up opportunities and create environments for students to seek fresh ideas and generate original solutions to problems," says Fathi Finaish, professor and associate chair of aerospace engineering. Finaish is the team advisor.

UMR’s team designed a 35-pound aircraft with a 19-foot wing span that lifted more than 70 pounds. The aircraft incorporated unique design and construction features, including lightweight materials, construction techniques and high-tech hardware.

"Our team makeup helps the AAVG stand out," says Chris Keithley, AE’02, MS AE’03, of Louisiana, Mo., a member of the winning team. He attributes his team’s success to a tradition of passing knowledge from the group’s elders to its newcomers.

"The team is made up of a mix of students — from freshmen to graduate students," he says. "We add new members yearly, which allows information from the veterans of the group to be passed down from year to year. Building upon the strengths of previous years allows the group to create a better aircraft by learning from what worked and what didn’t."

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UMR Advanced Aero Vehicle Group

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On January 27, 2004. Posted in Research