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The goal of this undergraduate engineering student competition is to design and build a radio-controlled airplane that will carry the maximum weight. All teams must use the same engine. Until recently, the planes were restricted by how much "shadow area" they could have. To fly successfully, the plane must take off within 200 feet, circle around, and land within 400 feet.
Cedarville Aerodesign teams had achieved what may seem to be only mild success over the years (7th place finish in 1992 and 9th place finish in 1996). But when one considers the fact that Cedarville did not graduate engineers until 1994 and that none of its students have been aero-engineers, those finishes are outstanding!.
Enter Brian and Nathan Foote, brothers who enjoyed building and flying model aircraft as youth. Their 2002 entry took 9th place out west. The Centennial of Flight celebration in honor of the Wright brothers brought the 2003 competition to Dayton, Ohio. Their entry was headed for a top three finish when too many g's in a tight turn caused their plane to literally become "unglued" and it fell from the sky.
The Foote Brothers built a new plane in three weeks spending 14 hours a day. They entered the Aerodesign West Coast Competition. The brothers’ 5.25-pound plane was able to carry a 23-pound load. Their scores topped the results of schools such as UCLA, RIT, Michigan Tech, and the University of Akron. Their success was rewarded by a First Place Overall trophy and sizeable check for the school.
The year 2004 brought the rule change which permitted unlimited "shadow" area but constrained the wing span. A new group of students determined to build a monster of a plane. Compared with those flown in previous competitions, it was so large, that a number of Cedarville's competitors outwardly ridiculed our plane. That was before our plane was able to fly the largest payload weight EVER in the history of the Aerodesign competition. Not bad for a group of freshmen and sophomores!