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JPL Annual 2003 Invention Challenge Results Gallery
Entry 6

a) What your team thought of the challenge (objective)?
It was the best yet. I am partial to aircraft and love anything that flies, so this was my favorite contest. It was well structured in that there were not too many ambiguities within the rules or the launch ramp directions.

b) What ideas your team considered?
I considered many ideas (timed control surface deflection, airspeed operated distance gauge which deployed lift dumps, variable geometry rotating wing)

c) What was your final design?
F-15 balsa, plywood model with fixed aileron/elevators and adjustable rudders. I copied this design from a "White Wings" paper airplane, modified the wing to make it thicker and stronger and waterproofed it. Based on the flights I made with the paper version, it is a remarkably predictable airplane. I thought predictability was a priority for winning this contest.

d) What was your testing process and how did you improve?
I took the first and only model to the park and launched it using the official launcher. Unfortunately, this was an hour before the competition so there was no time for improvement.

e) What your team learned at the regional contest (if applicable)?
I learned that a simple design is good and that practicing a lot with this simple design is even better. I also noticed that the second place aircraft was well constructed, and had the largest wing dihedral angle of them all.

f) What were your feelings or experiences at the JPL contest?
Sadness. This is because my airplane did not perform well.

g) How would your team improve your design?
Lighter weight aircraft. More wing dihedral angle.
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Jet Propulsion Laboratory National Aeronautics and Space Administration California Institute of Technology