Helios was designed and built in 1997 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 aircraft entirely powered by the sun, that could set an FAI Speed record for airplanes in its class.  No storage batteries were allowed.  The aircraft is a twin-boom inverted "V" design, with the solar cells contained within a transparent film skin.  The aircraft flew successfully, however the record was never attempted due to a supplier problem with the solar cells.

Specification List: 


  • Wingspan:    108 in  (9 ft)
  • Wing Area:   1890 sq. in  (13.12 sq ft)
  • Airfoil:            MH 20
  • Aspect Ratio:    6.17
  • Dihedral:        5 deg


  • Length:    23.75 in (1.98 ft)


  • Motor:    Astro Cobalt-035 geared
  • Speed Controller:    Astro 204D
  • Approximately 12 sq. ft. of solar cell array
  • Approximately 110 Watts of power from the solar cells at optimal sun
  • Maximum Thrust:  Approx. 1 lb


  • Structural Weight:    2 lb 11 oz
  • Electronics Weight:    1 lb 3 oz
  • Solar Cell Weight:    4 lb (see *)
  • Gross Weight:    7 lb 14 oz

Special Features:

  • No ailerons.  This reduced weight and added solar surface area.  Turning was accomplished through dihedral/rudder
  • Twin Boom, inverted "V" tail

* the 4 lb weight of the solar cells was almost a factor of 4 larger than that specified by the manufacturer due to a new "scrim" material on the cells.  The cell weight was the reason the record attempt was not made.

Team Info: 

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

Chief Engineer: Valerie Gordon

Aerodynamics / Stability and Control: Colin Hildinger (Lead)


  • Richard Operhall (Lead)
  • Chang Kuo Wei
  • Khoay Chuah Ng


  • Steve Cole (Lead)
  • Ronald Burgess
  • Tham Weng Choun
  • Chua Peng Sin
  • Pang Yong Shing
  • Kim Han Lee

Systems and Instrumentation:

  • Reed Jackson (Lead)
  • Jess Brown
  • Johnny Homer
  • Voo-Hahh Foo
  • Thien Trong


  • Dan Bierly
  • Paul Reinman

Faculty Advisor:  Dr. Andrew S. Arena, Jr


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


Sponsor Images: 
Memorable Quotes: 

"Flying with the power of the Sun-God"

Design, Build, Fly