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Thankfully, this is the V1 prototype (a.k.a. The Hulk), and there is a good reason for all this, so I don't need to yell at someone at the meeting tomorrow, which is nice because I don't really like doing yelling. The idea was to prepare for the testing today, since the weather was poor yesterday. To do this, they loaded the plane to an 8.5 pound total weight (2 pounds heavier than any previous attempt) and practiced hand-launching it. Luckily, catching the plane is not required at competition.
Today saw six hours at the field, and about 10 flights to apply payload testing to the competition aircraft and verify the stuff needed for the Pre-Tech Certification paperwork. I'll put edit some links and more detail in as I know them. Regardless, it feels like we're really ready for competition, and I'm really looking forward to getting to talk to everyone at Tucson. Competition was great last year; getting to hear others talking about solving the same problems our team did in different ways and with subtly different assumptions leading to radically different solutions was very enriching, and I think it helped with our process this year. This year, having been much more involved with the process of design and having the experience of building three different airframes, I think it'll be all the more interesting.
Actually, I know it will for me, I had a taste of it last weekend. At the AIAA Region III Student Conference, I got to talk to some members of The Ohio State team. This is their first year, and they sounded a lot like they were in the same position we were last year in terms of team-building, but their plane still was interesting enough in its approach that I found discussing their approach and comparing ours to be very enriching.