Science Olympiad & the Wright Stuff

Science Olympiad Students

Science Olympiad students preparing a model for flight

The build events, especially Wright Stuff and other flying events, can be especially rewarding, or especially frustrating. When I (Coach Chuck) started, students did not want to do Wright Stuff, because “Something always goes wrong.” I took the opposite approach, in that a well-engineered, and well tested plane will do exactly what you expect, unlike test events where you cannot control what the ES put on the test!

Our goal is to provide resources to help you get started and progress in your building and flying, and to be available for online help when mentors are not available in your area. We desire to see students excel at, and enjoy, building and flying model airplanes.

The SO flying events are NOT necessarily “design events,” but rather “Flight optimization” events. The parameters of the airplanes are often fairly complete in the rules, and so building is relatively straightforward. Because of this, kits form any source are allowed, and there are a number of excellent kits available form several suppliers. Most of these kits provide VERY detailed instructions, including trimming and flying, and are worth the investment. There are some designs available for download, most of which are older and will need modification to fit this year’s rules.

This year, High School will fly Wright Stuff, with a plane intended to be “very flyable”. The design takes dimensions similar to P-18 planes, as well as similar to 2016 SO Wright Stuff planes. The flight times are limited in part by limiting rubber motor mass to 1.5g Similarly, the mid schools will build an Electric Wright Stuff plane, with identical flying weight and dimensions to the high school event. The power will be through a direct-drive electric motor/propeller combination, powered by a 3-volt 5-farad capacitor.

Weight control is everything! A heavy plane will fly poorly. While 8 grams (9.5 grams flying weight) may seem daunting, it is actually at the heavy end of indoor duration flying, and can be managed without special woods or materials. Glue management is weight management! Glues add weight in a hurry. A video is available to review glue management techniques. With proper glue management, a plane can be built using grocery store veggie bags as covering and still make weight! A build-along of a P-18 kit, which is quite similar in dimensions to this year’s model, is available.

In order to progress from that first flight to maximum duration, a log book is absolutely critical, and is required in the rules. The most successful teams log EVERY flight, counting to hundreds during a season. Many teams show up with the bare minimum log entries, which is not helpful for flight optimization.

A very important resource is the Scioly Forum page. Here you can ask questions of fellow flyers and competitors. Importantly, Coach Chuck, Coach Brian, and Coach Jeff are often on the forum and will answer questions, usually within a day. This format allows others to see the answers. Past years of the forums are available as well, and provide a rich resource.

So, welcome to Wright Stuff 2022! Dig in, build straight and light, and get into that gymnasium as soon as possible!