Michael Braukus

Headquarters, Washington, DC

(Phone: 202/358-1979)

Keith Henry

Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA

(Phone: 757/864-6120/880-2472)

Tony Molinaro

FAA Great Lakes Region

(Phone: 847/294-7427)

Mary Sandy

Virginia Space Grant Consortium

(Phone: 757/865-0726)

RELEASE: 00-120

In an idea reminiscent of something in George Jetson’s
fleet, a student team has designed an airplane that can double as
a car, to offer true door-to-door service.

NASA and the FAA today recognized this and other university
student teams for their innovative designs by presenting the
1999-2000 National General Aviation Design Competition awards at
a ceremony at AirVenture 2000, the Experimental Aircraft
Association’s Annual Convention and Fly-In at Oshkosh, WI.

The first place award was presented to a 28-student team
from Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, and its collaborating partner,
Loughborough University, Leicestershire, United Kingdom. The
award provides $3,000 to Virginia Tech’s design team members and
a $5,000 award to Virginia Tech’s Department of Aerospace and
Ocean Engineering.

The team, which dubbed its design “Pegasus,” undertook the
challenge of designing an aircraft that would be “roadable” —
capable of both ground and air travel. The ability to switch
from aircraft to car-like operation allows such a vehicle to
effectively utilize small airports. The team recognized that the
cost to actually produce such an aircraft would exceed today’s
typical general aviation aircraft cost; however, the students
believed the additional cost should readily be offset by the
convenience of not having to have a car for ground

Second place honors went to a seven-student team from Purdue
University, West Lafayette, IN, for the “Silairus 490,” a six-
passenger, high-performance piston engine aircraft with an Air
Cushion Landing System (ACLS) in lieu of traditional landing
gear. The design offers the capability of surface-independent
takeoff and landing, permitting the vehicle to access off-airways
communities, thus shortening door-to-door travel time. The
Silairus 490 features a high-tech, electronically data-linked
cockpit with a comfortable cabin adaptable for many client
applications. The second place award provides a $2000 prize to
the student team.

The Purdue team also won the Best Use of Air-Force-
Developed Technology award for its incorporation of the ACLS,
developed by the United States Air Force. For this award, the
team will share a $3,000 prize from the Air Force.

Third place was awarded to Pennsylvania State University,
University Park. The team’s design, called “Alnighter,” is a
modern, composite general aviation aircraft. The six-place,
single-engine, propeller-driven vehicle has a conventional
layout. It features sophisticated aerodynamics and advanced
systems and avionics. For third place, the ten-student team will
share a $1,000 prize. Penn State has the distinction of having
won a place-award in each year of the competition.

The Best Retrofit Design Award was presented to a four-
student, University of Oklahoma, Norman, team for development of
an innovative, multi-mode tuned-exhaust system that offers noise
reduction while improving the airplane’s performance. The design
was undertaken as a part of a larger aircraft design project to
show how an older aircraft can be retrofitted with more modern
technologies for increased performance and safety. A $500 award
was presented to the student team by the award’s sponsor, the
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Air Safety Foundation.

Now in its sixth year, the competition calls for individuals
or teams of undergraduate and graduate students from U.S.
engineering schools to participate in a major national effort to
rebuild the U.S. general aviation sector. For the purpose of the
contest, general aviation aircraft are defined as single or twin
engine (turbine or piston), single-pilot, fixed-wing aircraft for
2 to 6 passengers. The competition seeks to raise student
awareness of the importance of general aviation by having the
students address design challenges for a small aircraft
transportation system. NASA and the FAA hope to stimulate
breakthroughs in technology and their application in the general
aviation marketplace.

The competition is managed for NASA and the FAA by the
Virginia Space Grant Consortium. Guidelines can be requested
from msandy@odu.edu or at 757/865-0726.