Australian Gary Redman won first place in the international college category with an aircraft he named OIONOS for the birds of prey the ancient Greeks watched to foretell the future. A commuter, his design seats 24 passengers clustered beneath an enormous canopy that floods the cabin with natural light. The cockpit, which looks something like an eel protruding from the right side of the plane, is separated entirely from the cabin for an added measure of security.
“The aviation design industry in Australia is moribund,” says Redman. “Aviation in Australia has declined to the point that we as a nation have become an outpost for singular parts manufacture and aircraft repair. This competition allowed me to show that Australian universities turn out students as good as anywhere. Consequently, instead of having 200 million people in front of me, I now am one of 20 or so students showing a direction for the future of aviation.”
Keep an eye on the Langley Research Center’s website for news of the 2008-2009 competition—the Fundamental Aeronautics Program will announce the terms of the contest by September 1. So far, they’ve allowed only that they’ll be looking for supersonic designs.