AIAA Announces Design/Build/Fly Winners Written 24 April 2020

CONTACT: Michele McDonald

Members of the USC team put their aircraft through M3 Testing intended to demonstrate "no banner drag reduction" while towing a 450 in. banner.

USC, Georgia Tech, UNLV take top prizes

April 24, 2020 – Reston, Va. – The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) today announced the winners of the 24th annual AIAA/Textron Aviation/Raytheon Missile Systems Design/Build/Fly (DBF) Competition.

Originally scheduled for 16–19 April in Wichita, Kansas, the Design/Build/Fly fly-off was cancelled to safeguard the health of the national and international teams due to the coronavirus pandemic. AIAA has gathered footage of many 2019–2020 teams flying their aircraft at home.

The competition is divided into two sections—a fly-off and a formal report. The formal report part of the competition did continue.

The 2019–2020 winners are:

  • First Place ($3,000 and $100 for Best Report Score): University of Southern California
  • Second Place ($2,000): Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Third Place ($1,500): University of Nevada, Las Vegas

“The Design/Build/Fly Competition is a highlight of the year and we sorely miss the enthusiasm, talent and creativity on display at the fly-off,” said Dan Dumbacher, AIAA executive director. “Aerospace trains us to adapt to the unexpected. It’s a good lesson for students as they enter this vibrant and meaningful field. I, for one, am enjoying the home videos of the teams flying their aircraft. Congratulations to the winning teams!”

DBF received 143 proposals and selected 113 to compete. Of the 113 teams selected, 101 submitted a formal report. The formal reports are scored for design as well as manufacturing and testing plans.

This year’s theme was a Banner Towing Bush Plane with a 5-foot maximum wing span. Separate missions included number of laps, number of passengers and luggage, and deploying a banner. More details about the mission requirements can be found on the DBF website.

Russ Althof, director of the DBF organizing committee, said, “We owe our thanks for the success of the DBF competition to the efforts of many volunteers from Textron Aviation, Raytheon Missile Systems, and the AIAA sponsoring technical committees: Applied Aerodynamics, Aircraft Design, Flight Test, and Design Engineering. These volunteers collectively set the rules for the contest, publicize the event, gather entries, judge the written reports, and in all other years, organize the fly-off.”

About AIAA
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is the world’s largest aerospace technical society. With nearly 30,000 individual members from 85 countries, and 100 corporate members, AIAA brings together industry, academia, and government to advance engineering and science in aviation, space, and defense. For more information, visit, or follow AIAA on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn.