In 2015 Aer0nauts entered the BMFA payload challenge for the first time. We designed and built a plane that proved to be less than adequate. In fact the two crashes at the event were the last in a long history of impromptu appointments with terra firma. By the time we arrived at the airfield our plane had landed successfully . . . once. Just enough statistically for us to be able to affirm that it had been test flown before the competition. And it was by no means for lack of advice, inspiration and ideas that it failed so competently. The team had arrived at the specification through many hours of deliberating and experimentation. It was probably this stoical resolve that led to our winning the prestigious Jetex Trophy, for during the competition, having crashed from 40 feet on lap 7 into the hardstanding we set about rebuilding it . .as we had done on many previous occasions only to crash a second time from 15 feet on our second run. In fact our plane was designed to crash. The main reason for the rear mounted motor was because we knew it would crash and we couldn't afford new motor every time it did so. Buoyed by Manny Williamson's decision to encourage us with the Jetex Trophy for our efforts, the 2016 Aer0nauts set about working out why our plane had been such a lemon.
Our philosophy had been by no means totally flawed. The plane was short and stumpy which promised agility and the payload was plumb under the plane's own centre of gravity which meant that we could carry any payload withing the spec required - or none at all. We had in fact mistakenly believed that the plane was required to complete an unladen flight in addition to those with payoad on board. Our nose was able to be quickly removed to load and unload and the total weight of the airframe was actually quite light.
It was plain in the end that our tail was really very small and that our nose was really very significant and flat sided. If we had swept the wings we might have stood a chance for lateral stability but it was not to be. Lots of lesson learned and lots of encouragment for next year . . .