Aerospace Challenge honours for two Tonbridge teams

A Tonbridge team has won the prestigious Schools Aerospace Challenge 2019.

The awards ceremony took place on Monday 25 November at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers headquarters in central London, during which team ‘Dye Hard’ – Sixth Formers Ollie Poole (WH5), Chris Leigh (WH5), Ben Burgess (WW5) and Cristian Smith (PH5) – were named as winners. 

This year, entrants were set the task of writing a report about potential threats posed by UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles, such as drones) to UK airspace, asking them to find practical and economically sound solutions. Finalists also had to present their ideas to an audience of distinguished aerospace industry professionals, including Air Marshal Julian Young, The Chief of Materiel (Air).

The winners were presented with the John Farley Memorial Trophy, named in honour of the renowned test pilot, and also received individual trophies and cash prizes for themselves and for the school. 

A second Tonbridge team, ‘Soteria’, came third overall in this national competition. Soteria – Max Lawrence (PS5), Alex Lawrence (PS5) and Cole Weber (CH5) – also received cash prizes.

Back in July both teams participated in the final round of the competition, held at Cranfield University, after which they were both guaranteed a top three position ahead of Monday’s awards ceremony.

As part of their five-day stay at Cranfield, the boys attended lectures by leaders in the aerospace industry (including representatives from Rolls Royce and Reaction Engines), experienced indoor skydiving, worked on in-flight experiments in a specially designed plane and tackled construction tasks. Participants also had the opportunity to network with senior professionals from the sector.

Phil Deakin, Head of Science at Tonbridge, said: “Our teams simply excelled in this year’s contest. Just 12 teams from across the country won the right to take part in the highly competitive finals, and three of these were from Tonbridge. To have two of our teams to then finish in the top three, with one winning the overall title, is most impressive and speaks volumes for the boys’ hard work and commitment. 

“Many of them wish to pursue careers in this industry, and their success in the Aerospace Challenge has seen them make the perfect start.”

Pictured above: Team Dye Hard, with Air Marshal Julian Young (left) and Professor Joe McGeough, President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Below, from top: Team Sotaria, plus additional photos of both teams.