At the Max Westheimer Airport on April 11, 2017, The Norman Chamber of Commerce Aviation/Transportation Committee hosted OU Aerospace Engineering Seniors Kevin Murray and Seth Eilerts of the OU Crimson Skies Design, Build, Fly (DBF) competition team. Also in attendance was Dr. Thomas Hays – the faculty advisor the DBF team who made a special appeal to the committee to involve the University in its conversations around UAVs.

Murray and Eilerts presented to the committee, airport staff and OU faculty their design and plans for the upcoming competition in Tucson, AZ and engaged in a discussion about UAVs (also popularly referred to as “drones”) in the local area. The staff of the Max Westheimer Airport (KOUN) commented on the popularity of drones in airspace across America and the FAA’s efforts to regulate their use. The airport staff further alluded to one recent incident that saw a small recreational unmanned vehicle crashing unexpectedly onto a runway – at the time of comment, the owner had not been identified. Murray and Eilerts detailed DBF’s approach to design, construction and testing of this and previous year’s aircrafts, while reminding all in attendance of their safety record and willingness to be a part of the greater conversation in Norman concerning UAV usage.

They reported this year’s design is being “lightweight and portable” as it folds into a tube for transportation and must be flight ready after removal without the use of tools. The presenters went into detail on how the design was optimized, multiple builds were implemented and tested, and furthermore predicted a favorable outcome at this year’s competition. The committee members wished the team well and reminded them of their support for the team’s endeavors.

This year’s AIAA DBF Flyoff Competition will be held in Tucson, AZ from April 20 – 23. The OU team will set off next week for a road trip to the venue. Follow the OU School of Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering Facebook Page for updates from the team at competition. This year’s team is following last year’s 5th place overall from 80 teams from across the world including the University of Texas, Georgia Institute of Technology, Cornell University, University of Southern California, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cairo University, Johns Hopkins University, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and many more[1].

Story & Photos By: Jawanza Bassue (M.S. Aerospace Engineering, May 2017)

[1] https://blogs.ou.edu/ame/2016/04/20/crimson-skies-places-5th-at-aiaa-dbf-competition/

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