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Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

It Flies! Merlin Flight Competition

The University of Dayton Merlin Flight Simulation Laboratory provides aerospace students with a unique opportunity to showcase their designs through It Flies! USA and UK competitions. The competitions are held at the University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio, USA, in April and Swansea, Wales, UK, in June. Air Force lieutenant colonels, majors and generals from the Society of Experimental Test Pilots (SETP) "fly" the student-designed simulations and contribute significantly to their aircraft design knowledge-base.

Virtual It Flies! 2021 USA Competition

According to Sid Gunasekaran, "We used the Zoom platform for the competition where judges, Chris/Marion, and the students participated. We asked the students to create a video presentation of the design to be passed on to the judges."

We started the competition with some introductory remarks and then each team had 5 minutes to talk about their design. After the presentation, each team had 5 minutes to answer questions from the audience and the judges. For the flight test, the test pilots arrived in the sim lab during the allotted time based on what team's design they chose to fly. The lab was equipped with a laptop and a webcam where the students talked to the pilots via zoom as well as interacted with the pilots as they flew their airplane. Each team had one hour with the pilot for a pre-flight briefing, answer any questions, interact with pilots in real time and post-flight briefing. Due to the time difference, the UK teams went first, followed by MSU and then UD. After going through all the flights, the judges met via zoom and decided the winners."

  • 1st Prize: Sparrow (University of Manchester)
  • 2nd Prize: Switchblade (University of Dayton)
  • Best Presentation: Big Bertha (Mississippi State University)

It Flies! 2020

It Flies! 2020 Canceled

Unfortunately because of the current restrictions with the coronavirus IT FLIES! 2020 has been canceled. Many thanks to those at the University of Dayton who were arranging the day and apologies to the visiting teams.

It Flies! USA 2019

The 2019 IT Flies competition on Saturday, April 6, 2019, had 8 teams: four from the University of Dayton, one from the University of Manchester, two from the University of South Wales and one from the University of Cincinnati.

First place was shared between the three following teams:

  • Ollie Banks, University of South Wales (Turbo prop Flying Boat)
  • Nikita Dunaev and Soma Santa, University of Manchester (Single engine lifting body general aviation airplane)
  • Andrew Killian and Ryan Simpkins, University of Dayton (A WWI era optimized airplane)

Second place was won by Jielong Cai (Jacky), University of Dayton (General Aviation observation airplane).

According to Dr. Sid Gunasekaran, flight simulation lab director, "The test pilots were impressed with the quality of the airplanes simulated. They mentioned that the competition went from determining whether or not an airplane could take off from the ground to whether or not the handling qualities are simulated to satisfy the required mission."

It Flies! UK 2019

Merlin Flight Simulation Group Aircraft Design And Handling Competition 2019

Held at The University of Manchester on Thursday 6 April, the judges’ comment was that it was the best IT FLIES competition yet. Each entry flew really well, and it was decided that they all deserved a prize. Never has the standard been so high — a real credit to the university students involved and their enthusiasm for anything aero!

Chief Flying Judge, Dave Southwood from ETPS, commented: This year, all of the models entered flew very successfully at the first attempt, with no refinement required by Merlin. The overall best model was one of the very best that I have ever flown in all the years that I have been a judge for IT FLIES. It was very heartening for all of the judges to see the enthusiasm, knowledge and attitude of all of the student teams. The format of the competition has developed over the years and we are confident that it gives the best possible learning opportunities for the students as well as being fun for them and for the judges!

  • The winning team is from Manchester, who designed a three lifting surface, twin engine light jet for 5 passengers, and a range of 1500nm, targeted at developing nations with mountainous/rough terrain and short runways.
  • Second was HvA, Amsterdam.
  • Third was Glyndwr University, Wrexham.
  • Most innovative design went to Swansea University with their extreme altitude mountain rescue rotorcraft.
  • Best project presentation went to The University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio, USA, for their solar powered glider.

Our flying judges were Dave Southwood and Gordon McClymont, and our presentation judge, Dr. David Philpott. Our many thanks to them and to the staff and students at The University of Manchester who helped enormously. Our sponsors this year were the Royal Aeronautical Society's Flight Simulation Group, and The Aviation Historian magazine. Very many thanks to them both for supporting us again!

It Flies! USA 2018

This spring, Will Cammack, mechanical and aerospace engineering major from the University of Dayton, USA, won first prize for his simulation of a KC-135 stratotanker during the It Flies! USA competition.

Cammack's next stop is Manchester, UK, where his design will compete at the June 8 It Flies! UK event.

First Prize - Will Cammack, University of Dayton

Cammack received $500 from Merlin Products, a student membership to The Royal Aeronautical Society and  coins from SETP for his simulation of a KC-135 stratotanker.

Prize for The Most Innovative Design

$200 and copies of The Aviation Historian went to Oliver Williams, Jason Hitchman and Matthew Uren from The University of Manchester, UK, for their simulation of ‘Dragonfly’ a flying car that drives and flies.

Prize for the Best Project Presentation

The book, Test Flying at Old Wright Field and copies of The Aviation Historian went to James Shipway, Bronwen Hadden and Dragos Sovar from The University of South Wales for their Blended Wing Body cargo aircraft based on the Airbus A320.

IT Flies! UK 2018

Nine teams entered It Flies UK 2018. They came from the University of Dayton, University of South Wales, University of Manchester, Swansea University and Amsterdam University. Dave Southwood and Gordon McClymont from the Empire Test Pilots School and Dr. David Philpott, aerodynamicist, judged the event at the University of Manchester.

First Place:

  • Business jet/flying boat by Kristian Groot, Amsterdam University
  • Blended wing aircraft with a payload of 20,000kg by Clayton Humphreys-Jennings, University of South Wales

Best Project Presentation:

  • First: Next generation strike aircraft designed to replace the Harrier by James Ellis, University of Manchester
  • Second: Twin engine turboprop aircraft by Nikita Dunaev and Soma Peter Santa, University of Manchester

Most Innovative Design:

  • First: Antycip Simulation UK by James Ellis, University of Manchester
  • Second: Stratospheric aerosol geo-engineering aircraft by Jasper Heeren, Amsterdam University

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Dr. Jamie Ervin, Department Chair

Kettering Laboratories
300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 0238