Shamu was designed to compete in the 2000/2001 AIAA/Cessna/ONR Design/Build/Fly contest, held in Patuxent River MD in April of 2001.  The mission objective was to alternately fly a high volume payload of up to 100 tennis balls, and a high density payload of steel.  Flight score depended on how many tennis balls and how much steel could be carried in the maximum mission window of 10 minutes.  Aircraft were subject to several design constraints such as runway length, wing span, battery type and size, motor type, etc.  Shamu was named after the Sea World killer whale, when it was noticed early in the construction of the fuselage, that it resembled a black whale.  Shamu was the first OSU aircraft to win first place at the DBF contest.

Specification List: 


  • Wingspan:        10 ft
  • Wing Area:        9.17 sq ft
  • Aspect Ratio:    10.9
  • Airfoil:               Eppler 423


  • Length 5.9 ft


  • Motor:                   Astroflight 661 brush-type geared 2.7:1
  • Controller:              ASTRO 204D
  • Fuel:                      37 SR-2400 NiCd Batteries in series
  • Propeller:               22x20 Bolly composite    
  • Maximum Power:  >1500 Watts (2 hp)


  • Empty Weight (excl. Batteries):     13.4 lb
  • Battery Weight:                            5 lb
  • Tennis ball payload capability:       100 balls (approx 13.5 lb)
  • Maximum Payload Weight:            16 lb
  • Max Gross Weight:                       35 lb


  • Composite main gear
  • Electromechanical nosewheel brake
  • Polyhedral wing
  • All carbon fiber construction
  • Quick-release/install hatch


  • Takeoff distance at max gross wieght:    200 ft.
  • Maximum endurance:    > 10 minutes
  • Typ. Cruise Speed        70 ft/sec
  • Maximum Range:          > 5 miles
  • Maximum Speed:          > 80 ft/sec
Team Info: 

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

Chief Engineer: Amanda Ciskowski

Aerodynamics / Stability and Control

  • Tiffany Boehm (Lead)
  • Luke Bell
  • Charles O'Neill
  • Greg Schulke


  • Binaya Thapa (Lead)
  • Millay Brians
  • Blake Cook


  • Michael Ayres (Lead)
  • Jim Meiseman
  • Cheng Shan Gan
  • Jogendran Pulendran
  • Naoki Hosada
  • Voon-Seng Chea
  • Chir Siang Pea
  • Loh Yuh

Pilot: Dan Bierly

Spotter: Dr. Ron Delahoussaye

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

Assistant: Joe Conner


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

Contest Summary: 

The mission objective was to alternately fly a high volume payload of up to 100 tennis balls, and a high density payload of steel.  Flight score was (Ws + n/5) where Ws is the weight of steel carried, and n is the number of tennis balls carried, for all laps combined.  For all steel payload laps, the aircraft had to fly the course layout shown.  For all tennis ball payload laps, the aircraft had to fly the course twice, but without the 360 turn.  Total score was calculated as Written Report Score * Flight Score / RAC

RAC was a "Rated Aircraft Cost" which penalized many aspects of the design.  It included penalties for design parameters such as; aircraft empty weight, engine power, wing area, etc.  A link to the complete rules may be found below.

Some of the more challenging constraints on the designs included:

  • 200 ft short field takeoff distance
  • Brushed electric motor using NiCd batteries
  • 10 minute maximum flight window (A typical mission required 5 landings to a complete stop.  This required the team to rapidly unload and load the payloads.  The time would usually run out not long after Shamu passed the downwind pylon, which is where the aircraft had to pass for a lap to count)
  • Aircraft must be lifted at the wing tips at full gross weight

Complete Rules

Official Contest Summary

Results Summary: 
  • Report Score:     90.03
  • Flight Score:       259.65
  • RAC:                  4.7
  • Total Score:        4976.86
  • Overall Place:     1st

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

Advanced Composites Group, Inc.
Ditch Witch
Frankfurt-Short-Bruza Association
Halliburton Energy Services
L. Andrew Maciula
Lockheed Martin Ft. Worth Division
NASA Oklahoma Space Grant Consortium
OSU Team Black 2000 "Flight Factory"
The Pump and Motor Works, Inc

Memorable Quotes: 

"Get it On!" -Blake Cook referring to the pit stops

Design, Build, Fly