The first design team out of the gate each year is usually Advanced Aero Vehicle Group’s airplane crew. In just over two weeks they’ll be plying the skies over Benbrook Lake, southwest of Ft. Worth Texas in the balsa wood/carbon fiber crash-a-thon known as SAE Aero.
They’ve paid the registration fees, reserved campus vehicles and submitted their design report, but they still don’t know if their aircraft can actually fly. That’s a problem.
Thanks to the profusion of (idiots with) hobby drones the FAA has barred R/C aircraft from operation on actual VFR airfields; instead of testing on a proper runway they’re forced to use a neatly trimmed but very soggy meadow.
Last weekend the flight crew took the as-yet unnamed aircraft out “to pasture,” while the build team stayed in Rolla to build a duplicate airframe. Just in case.
Pre-flight tests Friday night revealed a faulty transmitter battery, and by the time that was resolved it was too dark to fly safely. Just as well because the engine didn’t sound right, indicating a fuel mixture problem.
Saturday morning was April weather in February, perfect flying conditions, and even better conditions for watching from a lawn chair. The Miners got the engine firing and taxied the bird around the field, but they weren’t getting the thrust needed to pry the plane from the bog.
The ground crew changed to larger tires to better handle the thawing permafrost while the “pilots” swapped out the engine, all to no avail. It just wasn’t in the cards. Off into the sunset for now.
They’ll try again this week, but they HAVE to have a valid flight under their belts or they may have to cancel their trip to What-a-Burger land. And that, gentle readers, would be terrible.