university team put forth a nonstop
effort and enormous drive toward the
goal of achieving successful rounds.
Valley Flyers president, Chuck
Thompson, put it well: “It’s interesting to
see the various aircraft designs, envision
how they will fly, and then see how
they perform in a high-stakes contest.
Each successive flight is burdened with
increasing weight, so even a simple
takeoff and landing is challenging for the
pilot and entertaining to the crowd.”
We completed one round of flying,
instead of the typical seven or eight,
on Saturday. The weather had partially
cleared by Sunday morning, allowing
for two rounds of Micro, Regular, and
Advanced Class flying. Most teams
would have loved more, but three
rounds provided enough of a showcase
to let the best of each class shine.
The best and often most thrilling
of these flights brought cheers from
spectators and group hugs from jubilant
team members. I commend the Polish
teams on their enthusiasm whenever an
attempt really paid off.
After an hour of lunchtime tallying
(during which the students saw an
impressive display of jet and 3-D
flying by Valley Flyer pilots), it was
time to award trophies. Best overall in
Micro Class went to the University of
Minnesota, Twin Cities, with an overall
(design report, plus oral presentation,
plus flying) score of 249.1167 points.
Polytechnique de Montréal scored first
in Regular Class with 228.3183.
First in Advanced Class was the
impressive graphite V-tail airplane of
Boise State University with a combined
score of 203.2200. The NASA Systems
Engineering Award went to India’s
University of Petroleum Energy Studies.
Among the other awards is Best Crash,
and this year that twice-failed airplane
from the University of Michigan landed
Sunday afternoon was time to pack.
Some of these airplanes went on to
compete in SAE Aero Design East in
Georgia in late April. (The same aircraft
can be used in both competitions in
a single year—but new ones will be
required for next year.)
Other airplanes were shipped back to
their universities. The good ones perhaps
become showpieces; some of the others
are merely a box of badly smashed parts.
The memories of achievements and
failings are a learning experience for
these engineers of tomorrow.
The SAE Aero Design Series
could never be held without both
the enormous corporate support and
absolutely invaluable volunteer help. To
the professional engineers who give so
much time to this, and to those from
the Valley Flyers who provided (in
some cases) weeks and even months of
support, you have done a lot to enhance
the chance these students have for a
What could be a greater reward? You
can do it again! SAE Aero Design West
returns to Apollo 11 Field in Los Angeles
in March 2013.
SAE Aero Design
36 Model Aviation SEP TEMBER 2012 www.ModelAviation.com