Engineering students fly UP flag high at intervarsity flight competition

Posted on October 25, 2019

University of Pretoria (UP) students once again demonstrated the ability to translate the knowledge gained in their study programmes into real-world situations when teams from UP’s Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and IT were awarded the Best University certificate in the 2019 Aeronautical Society of South Africa Intervarsity Flight Competition after they took first and third place.

The UP teams and Barbara Huyssen, Aeronautics Lecturer

The annual competition was held recently by UP in collaboration with the University of the Witwatersrand at the Johannesburg Model Aircraft Club.

Thirty final-year aeronautical engineering students from both universities built their own model aircraft and competed in the Balls Speed Race.

The challenge for this year was to conceptualise, design and build a radio-controlled model aircraft capable of taking off under its own power while transporting as many tennis balls as possible over a short course in five minutes with an unlimited number of flights.

The Whispering Wings team, the winners of the Balls Speed Race, made an astonishing aircraft that carried 20 balls a trip.

On the day of the competition, there were 10 participating teams: five each from Tuks and Wits.

There was a lot of excitement and expectation from the spectators and lecturers who waited in anticipation. The fourth-year students put a lot of time and work into their conceptual designs during the second semester MLV420 module and now they had to prove the ability of the aircraft – not only on paper, but in the sky. One by one all the radio-controlled aircraft had successful take-offs. 

Wing It came third

We’ve Got Balls won Best Plane Design

Each team member had to run, quickly unload and load the balls and position the plane on the runway to be able to take off again after landing. Team work was essential to save time while the ball-loading strategy was the key to victory.

Wits teams struggled with their polystyrene planes, while the Tuks teams looked very confident and organised.

The Right Brothers loading their plane

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