Missouri S&T – 2, The Rest Of The World – 1.

Two years ago SAE International* laid out a challenge; develop, produce and operate a small aircraft capable of dropping emergency equipment and supplies to areas in great need. Through two international competitions not one of the nearly fifty engineering teams could make it happen. Saturday afternoon Missouri S&T broke that curse and pulled off the feat to cheers from nearly 1,000 participants and spectators. Sunday would tell if the Miners could do it again.

Weather changes made things really interesting for day #2. Winds were so strong that when some big-winged aircraft attempted to turn away from the wind, disaster struck and several violently flipped over on their backs.
CrASHSUN_7485
A few planes “hovered”, VTOL-style, over the runway, seemingly an advantage for soft landings but when wind gusts suddenly quit, pilots struggling to coax aircraft down would accidentally slam planes to the ground, with wrecked landing gear a common result.

Plane B made it 2-for-2 with a drop 36 feet from the bull’s eye, but Arizona State quickly erased Rolla’s Bestdrop1SUN_7591Bestdrop2SUN_7592Bestdrop3SUN_7593
monopoly, placing the aid package just 13 feet from perfection. Neither ASU nor S&T could better that drop as the winds pushed the Miners’ last attempt well wide of the designated circle.

Cal1SUN_8291

S&T ultimately took 4th place in Advanced Class. California-Davis took 1st place, copying the Miners’ 2013 strategy by scoring very well in design and presentation. Cal’s flight operations (right) were, uh, spectacular, leaving them in strong contention for the best crash award. Twice.

*Formerly the Society of Automotive Engineering (cars). They just changed their “brand” to SAE International. It sounds cool and mysterious, and they do a LOT more than car stuff.