May 31, 2017

A student team from Olney High School in Olney, TX has been named the 2017 winners of the Aviation Design Challenge, a partnership between the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) and Build A Plane. The Olney team beat 92 other student teams, and was awarded an all-expenses-paid trip to Glasair Aviation in Arlington, WA to participate in building a Glasair Sportsman kitplane this summer.

“The 2017 mission was to deliver the maximum payload possible between two specified airports,” said Sarah McCann, GAMA director of communications. “Olney High School was one of just three teams that successfully carried a payload of over 4,000 pounds on the virtual mission by using math calculations, scientific experiments and most likely a lot of trial and error.

“Olney’s design changes focused primarily on the aerodynamic lifting surfaces of the wing and horizontal stabilizer, and the thrust produced by engine power and propeller,” she added.

The news of winning the Challenge was delivered personally by Air Tractor President Jim Hirsch.

“As a GAMA board member, I am proud of the young men and women of Olney High School and their teacher, Sabrina Laurent, for their dedication that allowed them to win the GAMA/Build A Plane Challenge,” said Hirsch, whose company also is in Olney.

The Aviation Design Challenge was launched in 2013 to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) knowledge among U.S. high school students through aviation – which also is a goal of the No Plane No Gain advocacy campaign.

Schools interested in the 2017 competition received complimentary “Fly to Learn” curricula, which came with flight simulation software powered by X-Plane. Teachers guided students through the science of flight and airplane design, with each team applying what they learned by modifying the design of a Cessna 172SP inside the X-Plane software. The schools then competed in a virtual fly-off, with each design scored by GAMA engineers on aerodynamic and performance parameters.

“The Aviation Design Challenge can change the lives of participating students while cultivating the future for the industry,” said McCann. “Students learn valuable skills, not just in math and science, but also in public-speaking, teamwork and critical thinking. They also learn about professions they may never have otherwise known they could pursue.”

Learn more about the challenge.