Since this doesn't really fit into the normal trip report category I've decided to post this here.
For my last two years of university I’ve been a member of the Ryerson Aero Design Team (www.ryerson.ca/~aircargo). This past year we competed in the SAE Aero Design East and West competitions. Being one of the section leaders (I was responsible for tail design on the aircraft); I got to attend the East competition in Marietta, Georgia.
After packing up our Ford E350, a quick dinner and a stop at Tim Horton myself and 6 other team-mates headed out for Marietta. We left Toronto about 8pm, traffic along the 401 was surprisingly heavy, but once outside the city the road opened up. We made it to the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor about midnight. After a quick and painless border crossing we decided to keep on driving, since we didn’t want to stay in Detroit. We stopped about 1:30 just outside Dayton, Ohio. The motel was awful, but we couldn’t complain too much since the room was on $40 US a night.
Back on the I-75 we continued onto Marietta. Despite some nasty thunder showers we made it to the hotel by 9:30. We spent the next few hours putting the final touches on the plane and preparing for our presentation. After that we kicked back and relaxed. This was quite possibly the first time this has happened on a RAD trip. Last year we were frantically building till seconds before our first flight.
After a relaxing night we registered for the competition and waited to see who our judges were. Some time it can be engineers or it may be hobbyist. Depending on the mix of judges we may have had to tweak our presentation. As it turns out our judges were all engineers for Lockheed Martin. Two judges were working on the F-22 program and the other was the director of engineering. Our presentation went as smooth as silk. As we later found out our team was ranked 2nd overall for the presentation and technical report in our class. We spent the balance of the night packing up our gear to take to the airfield and celebrating our results.
We were up at the ass crack of dawn to get to a very soggy airfield. Our first flight of “Eh-380” (our airplane name) was successful in lifting 5lbs of weight. Our second flight was a real nail biter. The wind had picked up, and it was getting gusty, and poor Eh-380 was getting tossed around. But our pilot did a fantastic job keeping thing under control, and our second flight was successful at 9lbs. With two successful flights under our belt we decided to up the weight to 10lbs for our third attempt. Despite the increase in the wind and gusts we felt confident in our plane and pilot. Unfortunately success did not visit us again that day. Shortly after take off a gust forced Eh-380 to roll right and dive into the ground. Thankfully the damage was limited. We had to replace the landing gear, an elevator and the engine mount.
After a late night of repairs, we were up a 5am again to get ready for the second and final day of the competition. It was a brilliantly sunny day and we were felling good about our first flight of the day. We got everything ready on the flight line and Eh-380 started rolling down the runway. Despite full rotation she refused to get off the ground. We tried twice again, but with the same result. We managed 3 take off attempts in 5 minutes, but nothing worked, dejected we had to leave the flight line. After some engine test and a quick check of our throttle we discovered our throttle control rod was getting jammed on the muffler and the engine wasn’t getting full power.
With everything fixed, it was time for our fifth and final flight. Things were looking good. There was a slight headwind and the engine was now running at full power. Eh-380 took off down the runway, rotated and took-off. Just as it cleared the end of the runway and began to turn into the tailwind, Eh-380 dove down and nose dived into the ground. The impact looked and sounded bad, but we couldn’t retrieve the aircraft until all the flights had finished. After the longest half an hour of the trip we finally got a chance to pick up the pieces and assess the damage. Eh-380 suffered a cracked spar in the left wing, bent landing gear, sheared muffler, bent engine crankshaft, and the forward fuselage and cargo bay were a write-off.
After that we packed up and headed home. Overall we finished 13th out of 25 in our class, 2nd for technical report and presentation and were the Top Canadian Team.
Packing up to leave Toronto
What the weather was like on the way down
The team after our presentation
All my pictures and the competition pictures can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/greatbrownhype/
[Edited 2006-08-04 05:40:40]