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stevens ducks



  • Flight performance
    • Take-off
      • Time : 5 minutes
      • Distance : 100 ft
      • No assistance
    • Landing
      • Distance : 200 ft
      • Land in the same direction as takeoff
    • Cruise
      • Complete 360º circuit of the field
  • Design requirements
    • No lighter than air or rotary wing aircraft
    • No wing span limit
    • No restriction of size, shape, number, or distribution of payload
    • Payload cannot contribute to structure
  • System requirements
    • Restricted to ICE, reciprocating engines or electric motor propulsion.
    • Multiple engines or motor, multiple propellers, propeller shrouds, and ducted fans are allowed.
    • Fuel cell to be approved by AMA and organizer.
    • Stability augmentation allowed
  • General requirements
    • Radio transmitters must meet the FCC and Academy of Model Aeronautics 1991 Standard.
    • Battery Eliminator Circuit allowed
    • Metal propellers not allowed
    • Excess slop on control surfaces must be eliminated


  • Sean Payne:

Sean Payne



Sean Payne is a rc model enthusiast as well as a pilot. He has accumulated nearly 200 hours of flight time in 6 different types of aircraft.

He holds logbook endorsements to operate both high performance and complex aircraft.


In May 2009, he will earn a degree in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Aerospace Engineering.

He hopes to either work in the aerospace industry or continue his passion as a pilot.

He is currently working on becoming an instrument rated pilot.


  • Whitney Bender:

Whitney Bender is earning a degree in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Aerospace Engineering. 

She was a varsity athlete with the Women's Tennis team and will be continuing on to graduate school. 

  • David Kafrouni:

David Kafrouni is a graduating senior at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ.

He is graduating with a Bachelors of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering, specializing in Design and manufacturing and Ordinance Engineering.

David was resposible for the Modeling and Simulation for the plane as well as the website design.


He is an active member of Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity and a Teaching assistant for Engineering Design I and II.

  • Jessica Gardner:

Jessica Gardner will graduate in May 2009 with a bachelors of engineering in Mechanical engineering and a concentration in aerospace. 

She hopes to find a job in the aerospace field and her dream is to work for NASA one day. 

In her free time at college she has been a member of the Women's Varsity Volleyball team, which made it to the Elite 8 two years in a row.

she has joined the Delta Phi Epsilon sorority and has participated in the annual Unity Show (a dancing competition put on by the Ethnic Student Council).

  • Gregory Hodgson:

Name:  Greg Hodgson

Team roles:  Design troubleshooting, assembly, presentation, Southern California chauffer and tour guide.

Major:  Mechanical Engineering, Aerospace Concentration

Age: 23

Hometown:  Orange, CA


Useful past experience:

Co-ops with ITT Avionics in Clifton, NJ and Naval Air Warfare Center, Aircraft Division at NAES Lakehurst. 

Access and familiarity with aerospace industry and military aviation, expertise with test equipment,

automotive mechanical skills,

fabrication skills,

electronics skills.




12 lbs
Eppler 423
Wing Span
6.5 ft
Planform Area
6.5 square ft
9 lb
AXI 5230
Battery 10s LiPo
32 V
Motor Speed
10 X 19
Power Available 917.565 ft-lb/s
Maximum Forward Velocity 90.545 mph
Maximum Thrust Available 6.909 lbs
Thrust required at Take-Off 2.062 lbs
Thrust Required at Landing 2.229 lbs
Thrust at Level Flight 2.498 lbs
Lift 9 lbs
Drag 1.6 lbs
Take Roll 73.098 ft
Landing Roll 163.905 ft



Plane Schematics


Wing Displacement
Drop Test




The Heavy Lift Aircraft was designed to meet the requirements of the SAE Aero Design Competition Micro Class restrictions.  To qualify, the plane had to meet certain performance requirements, carry a payload in certain dimensions, and most importantly, to be broken down and carried in a twenty-inch cubic box and be reassembled before flight.  The plane had to be designed to meet these requirements.

spar connectors

wing construction


The Micro class had certain freedoms. Unlike the Regular and Open classes, we were free to use any kind of engine we wanted.  We used this to our advantage, and selected the most powerful electric motor and the largest lithium polymer battery we could acquire with the funding the school authorized for us.  Our design philosophy was one of brute force – we designed the plane around this powerplant, which we calculated would give us thrust required to meet all our performance goals in any configuration.


Our original design was perhaps overly ambitious – it called for a twin-engine, twin-boom layout with a large cargo bay in the central fuselage section.  While we could have made this aircraft using all-composite construction, the scheduling of the competition made it impractical to attempt assembly.  Therefore we modified our calculations and drafted a design for a simpler, conventional, single-engine high-wing aircraft.

We were able to adapt our wing concept directly from one design to the other.  The wing of course had to fit into our 20”x20”x20” box like the rest of our plane, so we designed the wing to be separated into 20” sections.  The sections were single pieces of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam, covered with Monokoat tape.  The wing sections were joined with carbon fiber spars, which was also collapsible into 20” sections and joined together with threaded aluminum fittings.  Fully assembled, the wing spanned eighty inches.  The wing was attached to the fuselage with rubber bands over wing anchored wooden dowels fixed to the fuselage.  This formed a secure bond that could be removed and reattached very quickly.

The tail of the aircraft also had to be collapsed in a similar matter.  The tail boom was made of graphite tubes that were joined by threaded aluminum connectors just like the wing spars.  One end was anchored in the fuselage, the other supported the tail surfaces.  Various configurations for the tail were considered, but only one proved stable.  The tail was assembled of rigid plastic frames covered with Monokoat.

Fully assembled, the plane performed well, lifting nearly its own weight in payload and meeting the performance requirements, taking off in 100 feet and landing in 200 feet.


first test flight





Our team entered the SAE Aero West Design Competition in Van Nuys, California.  The competition took place from March 6th through 8th 2009.

Team and Plane

The first day, Friday the 6th of March, was used for check-in, technical inspections, and design presentations.


The second and third days, the 7th and 8th, were arranged for flights for all the aircraft in competition.  There were seven rounds of flights for each class.

on the tar-mac

Teams from all over the world attended this competition.  In addition to the US, teams attended from Canada, Latin America, Europe and India.

Our team made six flights, having had to take one round out to attend to difficulties with the powerplant.  The first flight was made without payload, only ballast for stability.  The next three flights we took on Saturday carried successively higher payloads, culminating in an eight-and-a-half-pound load which was all the weight we had brought with us.  Overnight we purchased steel rebar to use as additional weights.  On our first flight on Sunday morning, we lifted eleven-and-a-half pounds, setting a record for the Micro class at SAE Aero West.  On our last flight, we reduced weight and attached an onboard camera to shoot video from the air.

aerial shot from plane

We did not actually score any points for the competition, because unknown to us the scoring equation assumed an aircraft weight of less than ten pounds.  Our aircraft weighed in at twelve point one pounds.  At any rate, we were one of only four aircraft in our class to actually make a successful flight, and we made more successful flights than any other team out of the class.  This gave us a fourth place score, which by our expectations was quite acceptable.


Final Flight



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