Black Star


The Black Star Flying Wing was designed and built in 1996 by a team of Aerospace, Mechanical, and Electrical engineering students at OSU as a project for MAE 4374 Aerospace Systems Design.  The design goal was to build an extreme endurance aircraft that could set an FAI Endurance record for airplanes in its class.  The record at the time of Black Star's construction was approximately 33 hours.  Although fuel consumption tests demonstrated the endurance capability of the aircraft would have been of over 40 hours, the most significant accomplishment of the Black Star team was the ability to achieve controllable flight with such an unorthodox configuration.

Specification List: 


  • Wingspan:        12.9 ft
  • Wing Area:       16 sq ft
  • Aspect ratio:     10.37
  • Sweep:              5 deg
  • Dihedral             5 deg
  • Taper Ratio:      0.525
  • Airfoil:               Eppler 325


  • Engine:         4-stroke Saito 0.5 cu in custom modified with new carburetor, and spark ignition
  • Fuel:             Refined Naphtha.
  • Fuel Tanks:   Multiple 1.5 in x 18 in cylindrical polycarbon tubes.  Secondary pressure regulation tank.
  • Propeller:     15x6 wood


  • Dry Weight:        6 Lb
  • Gross Weight:    11 lb


  • Basic wing leveler autopilot
  • Alternator for electrical power
Team Info: 

The Black Star Team was lead by a chief engineer, and was divided into 4 technical groups: Aerodynamics/Stability and Control, Propulsion, Structures, and Systems.

Chief Engineer: Eric Davis

Aerodynamics / Stability and Control:

  • Andy Som de Cerff (Lead)
  • James Root


  • Zeljko Nikolic (Lead)
  • Marcus Wade


  • Eric Hundley (Lead)
  • Kui Ling Ling Pau
  • Tung-Liang Tay
  • Tong Li Pua
  • Steve Youngblood


  • Edward Foxworth
  • Yeehui Khaw
  • Yin-Huei Tan
  • Soo-Ket Lim
  • Wee-Choong Chong
  • Thomas Wu


  • Dan Bierly
  • Paul Reinman

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Andrew S. Arena, Jr.

Contest Summary: 

The mission for the Black Star was to be capable of setting an FAI world endurance record.  The record at the time of the Valkyrie's design was 33 hours, 39 minutes, 15 seconds.  The Black Star falls within the FAI's F3A classification for  piston engined, radio controlled aircraft.  Major design constraints for this class are as follows:

  • Maximum gross weight:    11.023 lb
  • Maximum engine displacement: 0.61 cubic inches
  • Maximum planform area:        2325 sq in
  • Maximum wing loading:    24.57 oz/sq ft
  • Minimum wing loading:    3.95 oz/sq ft

Although the aircraft did not attempt the endurance record, it was demonstrated by the propulsion team that fuel burn rate was reduced to a point that 40 hours would have been feasible.  The most significant accomplishment of the Black Star team was in developing such a unique flying wing design, and achieving controlled flight without any stability augmentation.  The team considered safer flying wing designs that would have had better handling qualities, but the team decided to push the limits of the design to the low sweep, high aspect ratio configuration in order to optimize performance.

Design, Build, Fly