BMFA/BAe Systems Universities Heavylift Challenge 2004
Report on Universities Challenge 2004
The final of this event took place at Elvington Village Hall on the 5th June and at Elvington Airfield on the 6th. The teams of course had been working on their designs for many months before this. Some fell by the wayside and did not complete their written reports, drawings or aircraft structures before the due dates. Indeed one team had crashed their model just before the final and could not repair it.
The competition this year took a slightly different form and so all the teams had to come up with new ideas and aircraft to fulfill the criteria imposed by the rules. The new part of the rules requires the teams to achieve the highest mass lifted as a ratio to the dry mass of their aircraft. In other words, the highest weight lifted divided by the weight of the model. The thinking behind this change was to make the structure and weight of the model more important than it was previously. It would also give the teams the possibility of building a smaller model at less cost. Some universities find the funding to take part in our challenge a bit of a problem.
The teams were chasing the Perkins Slade Trophy and up to £1500 in prize money, for the overall winner. The Jetex Trophy for the best Design plus Verbal Report. This year there was no prize for the ultimate heaviest load lifted, as this would encourage the large model once again. However it was decided to give a monetary prize to the team who had tackled the project with the most professional outlook and effort.
The weather couldn't have been kinder. It was warm and sunny over the whole weekend with a light breeze on the Sunday for the flying part of the final. A rare wind direction made the setting out of the flightline and take-off limits, very easy. It was straight up and down the runway!
The organizing team were once again doing their usual jobs and it is worth noting that it is ten years since the first Challenge was held on Breighton Airfield, and the team is substantially the same. This makes running the event easier and more pleasurable as we go along.
The first couple of flights indicated that there might be a problem with the heavier models and the light wind, and so it proved during the day. Liverpool set the ball rolling with a lift of 2.7 Kg and obviously more to come. Coventry 6 crashed after the aircraft took off with insufficient airspeed and was very unstable.
The take-off has to be achieved in 61m otherwise a fixed reduction in the payload is made. Pilots try therefore to get the aircraft off before reaching the limit. Not always does this work. To be fair to the pilot Roger Bellingham, the model was only rudder/elevator and the design had not impressed the judges. Strathclyde 'SJ' had a smooth and uneventful flight through the whole pattern and recorded a lift of 3.0Kg.
The next to go was Strathclyde 'PE' and it was obvious that this aircraft was heavily laden and that some careful work had been done on the design. It was in fact carrying 8Kg. The pilot was one of the Alasdairs but I'm not sure which one. Well done anyway. Unfortunately it overran the take-off limit and incurred a penalty of 400 grams. The nett weight carried was therefore 7.6Kg.
Sheffield Hallam managed a good flight with 4.7Kg on board and Strathclyde 'C' followed with a qualifying flight of 6.0Kg. Southampton had a tail dragger landing gear and had problems with direction on take-off. As the load increases so the effective position of the main wheels changes.
This and a broken tailwheel bracket prevented a score being posted. Coventry 9 managed to take off in the required distance but that was about all and it seemed to avoid turning left at all costs. Roger Bellingham had a torrid time with this one. No score. Styrathclyde 'DW' (Divine Wind) didn't even take off. So no Divine Wind there then!
The first round being completed the reader will be interested in the Mass Ratio figures so far; In order,
Round two took the same order as round one and first to go was Liverpool with a payload of 5.1Kg. A full flight was achieved with no deductions. The team members are aerospace students and were using a NACA 634-12 section. They had a neat rod and nuts method of attaching both wings and undercarriage to the fuselage. The final Mass Ratio being 1.22. The Liverpool pilot was new to the event, one Michael Checkley who hails from the Wirral RCFS and is a BMFA Instructor. Well done Michael. Coventry 6 had no better luck than in round one, and failed to score. I think this was due to trying to lift too much in desperation. Strathclyde 'SJ' also failed to score for similar reasons.
Strathclyde 'PE' again had a take-off penalty but their nett load was 7.7 Kg for a final Mass Ratio of 2.13. This model has a carbon fibre tube as the main spar and a modest dry weight. Strathclyde 'C' improved and carried 7.5Kg, but their model was the heaviest of all at the finals and therefore the MWR was only 1.44. They used a Selig 1210 wing section but handicapped themselves by not watching the weight.
Unfortunately none of the other teams either improved or posted a score. Mention must be made of David Bartlett, the student from the Southampton Naval College, who had done the whole project on his own. The local model shop owner had given some help but he had no knowledge of the Challenge. His attempt in round two revealed that he had sorted the problem of take-off direction but had loaded the model too much to lift off. He retrieved his model car from the runway and removed ALL payload. David Lloyd-Jones proved that it was now an aircraft again, and did some aerobatics to prove it.
Thanks must go to all those BMFA members who worked hard during the day to make it a success. This year everyone stayed dry but a few comments on the high temperature were heard, Is a perfect day possible? Nigel Barker, East Anglia Area Delegate and Keith Barker from Rochdale came to lend a hand for the first time and enjoyed themselves.