Dedicated to the Promotion of Electric Propulsion in all types of Aeromodeling

SEFSD Supports UCSD Model Aircraft Design Competition

Dennis’s Team

By Steve Manganelli

Twenty-twenty four marked the third year of SEFSD supporting the flyoff of University of California San Diego (UCSD) Mechanical/Aerospace Engineering professor John Hwang’s MAE-155 Aerospace Engineering Design class. The design class started March 27th with the competition taking place on June 14th at our Mission Bay Park field. This class is the culminating exercise for graduating senior aerospace engineering students whom design and fabricate a payload carrying R/C model. The flight mission changed a little from last year as this year’s  payload was water filled 20 ml syringes vs golf balls.. The object was to carry as many as possible on a successful flight which was a takeoff, fly around the pattern and landing in one piece (more or less). The scoring formula had to do with weight and size envelope of the model without payload and the number of syringes carried. The models were carefully weighed before each flight attempt and tentative scores recorded.

Flying the explicitly unflown models is where  SEFSD support was paramount: none of the students were R/C pilots and none appeared to have R/C model building experience! Myself, Dennis LaBerge and Glen Merritt each adopted (2) teams for the flying chores. Before flying, each model required some rework: poorly hinged control surfaces, excessive control throws, flexible servo linkages, incorrect Center of Gravity and weak landing gears plagued most of the models. Once corrections were made, the models took to the air!

Glen Merritt’s all white model made the first scoring flight followed by my team, “Build With Friends” (BWF). The BWF team can be seen in the group photos wearing light blue shirts. I felt sorry for Dennis’s black and red team as they initially had an unworkable aileron hinging system and a (4) wheel non-steerable landing gear configuration. However, just pointing the plane into the steadily increasing wind (which fortunately stayed mostly down the pike) coupled with Dennis’s  great flying skill eventually proved victorious in the competition with I believe around 40 syringes. My BWF team finished 2nd with around 32 syringes and I believe Glen’s charges were 3rd. Other teams suffered from either inadequate power or too large a propeller or “aero-elastic” problems that resulted in crashes.

You might think something bad could happen with all these inexperienced aviators together, but it’s really quite safe: the students are provided the same propulsion system, radio system, servos, a selection of appropriate propellers and a supply of 3S-1800 batteries charged and maintained by experienced UCSD staff member Paul Arcoleo.  Paul’s position is to provide basic guidance on tool use and of course assure safety during the fabrication and be the master instructor during the flyoff. I really enjoyed the elation of the students watching their handiwork take to the air for the first time; it’s a feeling cherished among us experienced R/C model designers as well.

I also want to recognize Frank Sutton whom came and took many pictures for our album, to Larry Kosta for helping out Frank with a few mobile shots, to Jeff Struthers for loaning us a fire extinguisher (unneeded as it turned out) and of course my co-pilots Glen and Dennis.