High-flyers reach Aerospace Challenge finals

Three teams of Lower Sixth boys from Tonbridge have made it to the national finals of the Schools Aerospace Challenge 2019.

Sponsored by the RAF and the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, as well as by a number of engineering companies, the competition set candidates the task of analysing the potential threats posed by UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles, such as drones) to UK airspace, asking them to find practical and economically sound solutions. 

Just 12 teams from schools and colleges across the country were chosen to take part in the national finals, which means that Tonbridge represents a quarter of all teams selected.

The finals take the form of a five-day stay at Cranfield University in July. During this time, pupils will attend lectures by leaders in the aerospace industry (including representatives from Rolls Royce and Reaction Engines), experience indoor skydiving, work on in-flight experiments in a specially designed plane, tackle construction tasks and even meet the Red Arrows.

Those selected as overall winners or runners-up will have the opportunity to present their ideas to Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier in an event at the Institute of Mechanical Engineers later in the year. They will also win a cash prize for their school.

Phil Deakin, Head of Physics at Tonbridge, said: “Simply getting to the finals is, in many respects, the main prize. Those chosen will meet top figures from the aerospace industry, learn from the experts and have fun experiencing a ‘flying laboratory’. A Tonbridge boy who was at the Cranfield finals last year described it as one the best weeks of his life. It’s also a tremendous experience for all those who wish to pursue careers in engineering and aerospace.”

The boys making it to the finals are Olly Gedney (PS4) and Ralph Lavercombe (JH4); Ollie Poole (WH4), Ben Burgess (WW4) and Chris Leigh (WH4); and Max Lawrence (PS4), Alex Lawrence (PS4) and Cole Webber (CH4).