Model aircraft champions hope to soar again 'Flying Gophers' set sights at repeat aviation title

March 06, 1996|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,SUN STAFF

The Flying Glen Burnie High School Gophers, who took first place last year at a cargo aircraft competition, are looking for a repeat next month in Baltimore.

They are among teams from 13 schools signed up for this year's Cargo Aircraft Challenge, an annual competition designed to teach high school students about flight, creative thinking and problem solving.

The contest, open to high school students, is scheduled April 21 at the Baltimore Museum of Industry in conjunction with the Engineering Society of Baltimore. Contest sponsors are the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the Maryland Modelers Association.

The teams must design and build model airplanes to carry cargo -- the Glen Burnie team is planning to use washers. The plane carrying the most weight at least 1 foot off the ground in a circle around a pylon wins.

The teams must use an electric motor provided by the sponsors of the competition, and the aircraft must fit into a 3-foot-by-3-foot-by-2-foot box. Glen Burnie's team is made up of four students from an aviation class that was first offered last spring.

The class is "a great motivator for the guys in particular," said teacher Arthur L. Chenowith. "They like to see things fly. It gets them excited about stuff."

For the contest last year, the Glen Burnie students designed a plane of balsa wood with light blue plastic foam wings. The battery-powered aircraft flew one lap in a 15-foot circle, carrying 100 grams of cargo, to win the contest.

The only problems the students ran into were with the undercarriage, which broke under the burden of too much weight, and plastic wheels that didn't roll smoothly.

"We never had a chance to realize its full potential because of the weight on the undercarriage," said Clint Green, 17, a member of last year's team.

Team members said they had only a month to put the craft together last year because they learned of the contest too late. This year, the four team members, mostly upperclassmen, say they have had more time and hope their plane carries at least 120 grams.

They are looking at different ways to connect the batteries to the undercarriage, and they are substituting black rubber wheels for tTC plastic ones for improved durability and to ensure a smoother ride.

They also have tested different wing designs in a wind tunnel in the back of their classroom to determine which ones provide the most lift.

"The more lift we have the more weight we can carry," said John White, 17, a new team member.

Mr. Chenowith said his students would "keep testing until we get an optimum flight."

The students must submit a report and drawings of their aircraft to Baltimore Museum of Industry by March 29.

If they can stay dedicated to their project, the Flying Gophers will win again, Clint said.

Pub Date: 3/06/96

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