Stanford Flight (DBF)

What’s This?

Every year, the AIAA releases a set of rules for a yearlong aircraft design competition that is attended by universities around the world.  Aircraft are constrained with a fixed set of parameters, and scored based on their conformity to the competition guidelines and their flight performance as demonstrated in the competition fly-off.

Stanford Flight is Stanford’s best (and only) Design-Build-Fly competition team.  DBF’ers come from a wide range of backgrounds and experience levels, from 3rd year AA grad students to freshmen looking to learn something new, and we welcome any and every Stanford student to join us in our efforts to make stuff fly.  2018 will be the team’s third year of competition, and we have a great crew assembled to tackle the challenge.  We also have the Dankest DBF Twitter account, as certified by independent experts (it’s legit, UT Austin DBF mailed us a certificate).

The 2018-19 AIAA DBF challenge involves a carrier-launched AWACs-type aircraft that drops nerf footballs, and the normal Rated Aircraft Cost (RAC) requirement that tended to limit aircraft to being small and lightweight in past years has been dropped!  We have some fun design ideas for this challenge, and will begin prototyping in October.

Stanford Flight took 21st out of 100 teams in last year’s AIAA DBF competition.  Our competition entry, Boxy McPlaneFace, fared well against its competitors despite its (((enormous))) size and weight, due to its ability to haul large amounts of cargo and passengers while handling inclement weather, including strong winds and rain.

Competition Videos



Onboard Video!

An Older Oops

Stanford Flight Leadership Team

Simon Li
Simon LiChief Engineer
Simon is a 2nd-year Master’s student in AA. This will be his second year on Stanford Flight. He ate a hat last year. It was cool.
John McNelly
John McNellyTeam Manager
(This guy started it, blame him.)

John has been a member of Stanford Flight for 3 years, since founding it his freshman year. He likes to fly planes and break things. He’s also the team pilot and has a fondness for wearing a banana suit at competition. Get in touch if you have questions about joining the team, dressing as a fruit, or sponsoring us! He doesn’t bite. Usually.

Natalie Ferrante
Natalie FerranteStructures / Manufacturing Lead
Natalie is a Senior in Mechanical Engineering, and is our go-to for building ALL the things. This will be her second year on the team; she’s fond of robots, has the best collection of rally, and occasionally makes highly entertaining noises that sound kind of like “nyahhhh”.
Levi Oliver
Levi OliverPropulsion Lead
Levi is our propulsion lead, and comes from a long line of propulsion leads, just like the Levi before him (who also was on our team), and the Levi before him (who was propulsion lead at Columbia), and the Levi before him (also at Columbia) and the Levi before him (again, Columbia). Levi insists that these humans are all the same, but we have our doubts. “Levi” is highly skilled at Dungeons and Dragons, and has the fantastic ability, when required, to exist purely on a combination of energy drinks, fingerless gloves, and hope.
Zan Xu
Zan XuAero Lead
Zan Xu is a 2nd year graduate student in AA, and was a member of the team last year as well. He enjoys playing a Barbarian during Dungeons vs Dragons matches.