The University of Kentucky Design/Build/Fly (DBF) team’s “Blue Dawn” will compete against 80 student teams from around the world in the annual Cessna Raytheon AIAA Design/Build/Fly (DBF) Competition April 15-17 in Tucson, Arizona.
Each year, teams must design a lightweight aircraft to successfully complete three missions. This year’s missions are: the aircraft must be able to be packed into a standard overhead-compartment suitcase; be assembled by one person alone in less than five minutes; and able to carry two different payloads – a heavy steel plate and as many golf balls as will fit inside the fuselage.
The challenges of designing a lightweight plane that will fit into a suitcase, be assembled quickly and carry the payloads are contradictory, so the students must be able to optimize various aspects of the design trading off payload for overall weight and packability.
DBF prepares students to understand and design unmanned aircraft systems – the direction of increasing opportunities in the aircraft/aviation industry.
To be successful at the DBF competition, it is not enough to have excellent aerodynamic and structural designs. The team must also submit a 60-page technical report that is graded by industry experts to establish their position on the flight line. They must also be able to construct a lightweight, precise, rugged aircraft, and then practice flying.
UK’s students have had many successful practice flights with their four aircraft (two prototypes and two competition aircraft). They are ready to go and show the world what they’ve accomplished.
Follow their progress in the competition via their blog: