31 March 2023

Obelix flew to the United States

The team at the SAE Aero Design competition in Lakeland | Autor: archiv Chicken Wings

Seventh place in the international competition of twenty-five student teams was won by Chicken Wings from BUT and their Obelix. That's how the students named their latest aircraft, which they designed and built for the international SAE Aero Design competition held in Lakeland, Florida, in mid-March.

"We call the plane Obelix after the heavy load it was supposed to carry. The take-off weight was around 19 kilos, of which up to 9 kilos were cargo," the head of the Chicken Wings student team, Adam Pilát, who is studying the master's programme in Aviation and Space Technology at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, explains. He recently returned from the United States with his teammates and looks extremely happy. “Compared to our first participation in the SAE Aero Design competition three years ago, we have improved. Back then we finished in 12th place in the Regular category, this year in 7th place. I consider this a very good result in strong international competition," Pilát praises.

The plane is called Obelix | Autor: archiv Chicken Wings
As always, the team had to create a new aircraft according to the specified parameters. “One of the design limitations was the maximum engine power of 750 watts, to which we had to adapt the entire design in order to even take off on a short runway. Another limitation was the wingspan, we decided on a span at the upper limit of around 5.5 meters. At the same time, the rules were set so that the largest dimension of each part of the aircraft could not exceed 120 centimetres. This came in handy for us, it somewhat compensated for the disadvantage of overseas teams, which, like us, transported their model by plane," Pilát explains.

How do you even pack a plane like that into a plane? "Strictly and carefully," the team boss says with a laugh. "We fit into two plywood boxes. These need to be filled with polystyrene and foam fillings, and then we really need a lot of bubble wrap. Each part must be carefully packed so that there is absolutely no movement of the cargo in the box. You probably know what loading and unloading luggage looks like at the airport," Pilát explains.

Prague versus Brno

The wingspan is around 5.5 meters | Autor: archiv Chicken Wings

At the competition, the "chickens" from Brno met not only international competition, but also their sister team from Czech Technical University in Prague. "It was created years ago when one of our members moved to Prague. We have the same name, we are friends, but we have been working separately for a long time and there is a healthy rivalry between us. I think it pushes both teams to better performances," Pilát confirms the classic "Prague versus Brno" matchup.

According to him, there was a similar healthy rivalry between all the teams in Florida. "The teams compete with each other, but otherwise we all supported each other and helped each other or even advised each other. There was a really great atmosphere and we learned a lot," Pilát says, adding that they plan to use some of the design elements they saw in their competitors as inspiration for their next aircraft.


The team will now enjoy a short break; after which they will prepare for the next competition. There is no time to be idle, a completely new airplane will be created for her as well. And who knows, maybe Asterix will join Obelix. After all, he did have a winged helmet…


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