Aeronautical Society of South Africa 2015 Aerospace Challenge

By Garth Calitz

The University of Pretoria Aeronautical Society hosted the annual Aerospace challenge at Air force Base Zwartkop on Saturday 31st of October. The challenge this year was for the teams to conceptualise, design, construct and fly a radio controlled model aircraft capable of taking off under its own power and flying as fast as possible over a short course.

This year the organisers decided to expand the competition allowing school pupils an opportunity to show off their abilities at design and construction as well, the overall winner of the individual competition happened to be a school team. An open class category was also added which was open to anyone. The competition is designed to be a fun competition with the intention of encouraging interest in both aviation and aeronautics amongst all that take the challenge as long as they stayed within the rules.

Bat Mobile

The competition was open to any individuals or teams consisting of up to seven competitors. A maximum of three models was allowed per team provided that they differed noticeably in geometry.

Flying Cheetahs

While anybody may enter as a team member, for safety reasons only SAMAA approved pilot were permitted to fly models at the competition. Organiser furnished pilots were available to fly the models for the Inter-University Challenge and Inter-school Challenge teams, building assistance from members outside of the team is permitted. The models were scrutineered before the event for compliance with the rules and specifications.

Sexy Shark 2

All models were limited to the same motor the “E-flight Park 450”, this motor was chosen as it is relatively inexpensive and is freely available from many hobby shops. The power source is limited to a 3 cell Lithium Polymer (LiPo) battery of sufficient capacity for the required tasks. The minimum wingspan of the model was 1,2m measured in a straight line at right angles to the fuselage in “plan” view from left wing tip to right wing tip, there was no fuselage length limitation. Any model entered in the competition had to be an original design with no major components from existing model aircraft such as wings, fuselage or tails were permitted. Use of standard model aircraft hardware such as engine mounts, control horns, and landing gear was allowed.


Designs were limited to fixed-winged aircraft configurations only and the model had to fly largely on the aerodynamic effects of its wing. Geometry changes on the model (flaps, wing sweep etc.) were allowed providing it is brought about by remote control. The fuselage, wing and tails may be constructed of any material. The flight batteries were permitted to be replaced or recharged between attempts. Fortunately for some, repairs to the models was permitted at all times during the competition providing they were ready to fly their allocated time slots.

Model Mania

The flight consisted of a four leg pylon race, all models were to take off from the ground and within 30 seconds of motor start enter and fly, in a controlled manner and as fast as possible, four lengths of the pylon course of 150 m, turning at each end. The model had to land within one minute of completing the course.

Although the conditions were far from ideal for flying, with winds gusting up to 15 knots, the teams enthusiastically took to the air, or some of them did. Unfortunately there were some of the aircraft that didn't manage to get off the ground. Those that did were treated to loud applause by all the spectators, some spectacular crashes were also witnessed all loudly cheered by the students.


The University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) took overall team honours with the University of Pretoria (Tuks) team “The Leading Edge” taking the prize for the fastest run in the intervarsity competition.

In second place was team “EB2K15” from Wits. Third place belonged to team #Tuksmustfall also from Wits.

Tuks Must Fall

The School competition was won by the “The Flying Cheetahs” and a team from Model Mania took the open Category. A prize was also awarded for the “Best Crash” this went to the aptly named “Aeronautically Challenged” team, the “Hard Luck” award went to the “Phoenix” team their aircraft unfortunately never got off the ground.

Schools first price winners

Model Mania…..Best Crash

Hard Luck Award

It was really encouraging to see the big role players supporting the students, representatives from the CSIR, Denel and Aerosud joined the proceedings and were impressed by the level of ingenuity show by these budding young engineers.

A big thank you must go to the SAAF Museum, CSIR and The UP Aeronautical Society for once again organising a wonderful event.

Events 2015
Aviation Hobbies

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