"Fastback" was designed to compete in the 2008/2009 AIAA/Cessna/ONR Design/Build/Fly contest, held in Tucson, AZ in April of 2009.  The name "Fastback" originates from the concept used to rapidly remove the airplane from its storage crate, and prepare it for flight.  A crew member simply pulls a rod on the tail to back the airplane out of the box.  Simultaneously and automatically, all 5 payloads are mounted and secured, the tail extends and locks, batteries are connected, and then two other crew members, unfold the wings.  A three-man crew is capable of starting with the plane in the box, and making it flight ready, in under 5 seconds.  The aircraft was designed for 4 different missions:  A quick assembly mission where the plane must be removed from the box, all payloads installed, and the airplane made flight ready; a high-speed ferry mission, a longer endurance surveillance mission carrying an external centerline tank of 4L of water, and a store release / asymmetric load mission where 1.5lb rocket payloads are remotely deployed in sequence each lap.  "Fastback" finished in first place at contest.

Specification List: 


  • Wingspan:        83.2 in
  • Wing Area:       865 sq in
  • Aspect Ratio:    8
  • Airfoil:               Martin Hepperle 114


  • Length:     36.75 in
  • Height:     5 in
  • Width:     4 in


  • Motor:         Neu 1905-1.5Y
  • Fuel:            NiMH batteries
  • Propeller      18 in


  • Empty:    101.18 oz
  • Battery:     20.32 oz
  • Mission 2:    264 oz
  • Mission 3 (max weight):    217.5 max


  • Large and varied carrying capacity
  • Release mechanisms for 'rockets and center tank
  • Folding wings and retractable boom tail
  • < 5 seconds from box to flight ready


  • Take off at gross weight (GW):    86 ft.
  • Max climb rate (GW):    9.27 ft/sec
  • Stall speed (GW):         37.69 ft/sec
  • Maximum speed:           78.7 ft/sec
Team Info: 

The OSU Black design team was led by a Chief Engineer, and divided into four primary groups: Aerodynamics/Stability and Control, Propulsion, Structures, and CAD.

Chief Engineer / Ops Chief:

James Cooper / Andrew Stroup  

Aerodynamics / Stability and Control:

  • Alan Larson (Lead)
  • Sean Maclaskey
  • Alex Mendelsberg
  • Dylan Sirbaugh
  • Jacoby Woods


  • Joe Thomas (Lead)
  • Andrew Stroup
  • Saumya Simon


  • Daric Adair (Lead)
  • Kyle Bird
  • Jacob Calavan
  • Ryan Clark
  • Wes Combs
  • Jesse Cruce
  • Matthew Grace
  • Dusty McAfoos
  • Taylor Mitchell
  • Jacob Poindexter
  • Andy Sproul
  • Adam Strawmyer
  • Victor Wilterdink

CAD: Austin Beerwinkle

Pre-Mission Speed-Assembly Team  

  • Matthew Grace
  • Kyle Bird
  • Andy Sproul

Mission 3 Speed-Load Team  

  • Dusty McAfoos
  • Kyle Bird
  • Andy Sproul

Graphics and Media:

  • Mark Nelson
  • Jacob Weierman

Pilot: Dan Bierly   

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

*(The above team roster does not include all people involved in the project)

Contest Summary: 

The 2009 DBF profile was one of the most complicated and involved to date.  It consisted of three flight missions, and two pre-flight missions. Additionally, in the pre-contest technical inspection phase, the airplane and all payloads had to survive a drop on all sides of the box without sustaining any damage.  Total score consisted of: 

  • Written report score
  • Total system weight (weight of box, airplane, and all payloads)
  • Pre-mission assembly time
  • Ferry flight time with high-drag external tank (empty)
  • Surveillance mission with external tank full
  • Store release mission loading time, and completion of 4 laps with deployment of a 1.5 lb rocket each lap

The 2009 contest was a nail-biter for the design teams since each team had a maximum of 5 flight attempts to complete 3 very different and complicated missions.  The store release mission in particular was very challenging, and was only completed successfully by 3 teams.  Ironically, the mission most feared by the Black team was the surveillance mission.  This mission resulted in the highest gross weight and drag, and therefore the longest takeoff run and required mission endurance.  Because of the high density altitude due to the temperature, and the lack of wind, the FastBack scratched one flight attempt due to the 100 ft. takeoff requirement.  On the next flight attempt, the FastBack was able to take off with only inches to spare, and completed mission 2 with very little battery power remaining.  The OSU Black team finished in first place.


  • Flying with asymmetrical payloads required by rule to be spaced far from the centerline
  • Takeoff in 100 ft 
  • Endurance for 4 laps with external tank installed
  • Assembly speed for aircraft and payloads
  • With airplane and payloads inside, the box had to be dropped on any side with no damage
  • 5 quick install/release fasteners remotely deployable for all payloads

Complete Contest Rules

Official Contest Summary and Results

Results Summary: 
  • Report Score:      97 
  • Pre-Mission assembly time:  11.6 seconds
  • RAC:      36.15
  • SCF:      7.64
  • Total Flight Score:      224.8
  • Total Score:      21807
  • Overall Place:      1st

The following sponsors contributed to the project.  The OSU Black team greatly appreciates their support, and considers them members of our team.  Without their support, the project would not have been possible.

Spirit AeroSystems
AIRINC Engineering Systems, LLC
Brandon and Julie Jones
Ditch Witch
Lockheed Martin
L. Andrew Maciula
NASA Oklahoma Space Grant Consortium
OSU Orange and Black Teams 2008;
Red Bull
Family and friends of OSU Black 2009

Design, Build, Fly