FT STEM, Community & Team Take on Red Bull Flugtag

by FliteTest | August 1, 2017 | (0) Posted in News

Flite Test is joining in on the epic fun of the Red Bull Flugtag event again this year in Pittsburgh! The journey from start to finish has been a unique experience compared to last year’s competition. One aspect that is different than last year is that Flite Test integrated the Flite Test STEM program into the process in a major way.

While attending the Pittsburgh Flugtag announcement in February, Josh Bixler, declared that this year Flite Test would attempt to win it all again with a design created by the FT STEM students.

“We believe in our STEM program so much that we know we absolutely have a chance to win,” said Josh.

Using the FT STEM Design Model, the Flite Test team assigned five FT STEM programs throughout the U.S. to develop a flugtag aircraft design for FT to use in the Red Bull Flugtag competition. Each school put in several hours and had the opportunity to chat with Josh and the rest of team throughout the process.

When the designs were completed and presented in May, the Flite Test team chose the main aeronautical element of the design solution from the North Central Washington Classical Flyers lead by Trevor Sill. The homeschool group (grades 9-12) won with a design concept that infused the Burt Rutan style wing construction along with a heavy ground effect design component.

“The Classical Flyers break the boundaries of the STEM program can be,” said Josh. “The students made the design using CAD and Sketch Up communication software, which was clear and well thought out, and their presentation was spot on!”

With the design chosen, the Flite Test team then had the task to put the design through another set of parameters with the assistance of Andres Lu, Flite Test intern. Using CAD and years of aircraft design knowledge, the team created four prototypes at Flite Test HQ before landing on the final design that would be the aircraft flown in Pittsburgh.

“I’ve learned a lot about aircraft design from Josh throughout the process,” said Andres. “This is the largest aircraft I’ve ever built, so having the assistance of Josh, other members of the Flite Test team and Flite Test community members has helped speed up and streamline the build.”

To make the process even more interesting, Flite Test tasked its community members to assist in constructing ribs and the two main wings at Flite Fest East in Malvern, Ohio.

During the final stretch of time before Flugtag, the Flite Test team completed the build at Flite Test HQ and prepared for their first and only flight. (No pressure!)

“We look forward to going head-to-head with this year’s Red Bull Flugtag teams including engineering students from big universities such as Youngstown State University and Carnegie Mellon University,” said Josh. “We may be flying the flugtag aircraft, but it is our incredible Flite Test STEM program’s design and FT community helping us build the aircraft that will bring everything together for the big win! Entertaining, educating and elevating the world of flight has never been more exciting!”

Check out Flite Test’s flugtag journey on Instagram stories starting Wednesday, August 2, and start voting for them for the People’s Choice award on Friday, August 4, at 12 a.m.! Use the hashtags: #VOTEFliteTesters AND #RedBullFlugtag on your photos on Instagram and Twitter. Both hashtags must be present for your vote to count! Voting ends at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 5, so be sure to vote before then!

>> Flite Test's Instagram page.

>> Flite Test's Twitter page.

Big thanks to those who helped make this year’s flugtag aircraft happen:

Jake Marshall, STEM curriculum developer, for organizing and executing the FT STEM design competition

FT STEM schools: North Central Washington Classical Flyers (Washington State), Mesquite High School (Arizona), FlashPointSTEM (Hawaii), Gordonsville High School (Tennessee) and Lucile Erwin Middle School (Colorado)

FT Community Build members: Lisa M, Sara Seaman, Perry and Seaman family, David Breyla, Nick Neiger, Wes, Julian, David P, Dave, Will Ferrel, AG and Adrian Garcia (and MANY more that didn't sign the plane!)

Flugtag specs:

  • Wingspan: 280 in
  • Canard wingspan: 188 in
  • Main wing chord: 52.5 in
  • Canard chord: 35 in
  • Height: 68 in
  • Polyhedral: 8 degrees each side
  • Center of gravity: 72.5 in from nose
  • Weight: ~130-150 lbs 

Learn more about Red Bull Flugtag 2017 here!


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FT STEM, Community & Team Take on Red Bull Flugtag