GAMA Announces 2019 Aviation Design Challenge Winning Teams

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) has announced that Hayesville High School in Hayesville, North Carolina, is the winner of the 2019 GAMA Aviation Design Challenge and Erie 1 BOCES Harkness Career and Technical Center in Cheektowaga, New York, is the second-place winner.

“Our team of engineers serving as judges were extremely impressed with the quality of the designs submitted in this year’s competition,” said GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce. “We look forward to working with these young people and teaching them more about the exciting world of aviation through the unique experiences of the Glasair Sportsman build and Redbird STEM camp. Thank you to our curriculum and software partners and member company sponsors for their generous support that makes this program possible.”

The Aviation Design Challenge, created in 2013, promotes Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education through aviation curriculum among U.S. high school students. GAMA will send four students, one teacher and one chaperone from the first-place team on an all-expenses paid trip to help build a plane at Glasair Aviation in Arlington, Washington, from June 10 to June 22. The second-place team will receive a two-day Redbird Flight Simulations STEM Lab Camp, hosted at their high school campus.

“Hayesville High School could not be more excited about winning this contest,” said Hayesville High School Principal Dr. Catherine Andrews. “We appreciate what GAMA, its partners and sponsors do to help bring this Challenge to life and hope that we can carry on in the GAMA tradition as we help develop the future aviation enthusiasts of America.”

The 2019 competition included registrants from 136 high schools. The teams used Fly to Learn curriculum to learn the basics of aerospace engineering and then applied that knowledge by modifying a virtual airplane with software powered by X-Plane. The software scored the aircraft based on the payload, the length of the flight and the amount of fuel burned. In addition, judges from GAMA’s engineering team evaluated a summary of modifications each team made to the virtual Glasair Sportsman, a checklist of steps involved in the demonstration flight and a video submission in which the team summarized what they learned.

“As the first-place winner in 2018, we know how rewarding this competition can be for youth,” said Anedda Trautman, associate director for Erie 1 BOCES’ Harkness Career and Technical Center. “Hands-on experience with industry offers a tremendous value to student learning. Thank you to GAMA and its partners for their efforts; we are so proud of our students’ achievement and look forward to hosting Redbird Flight Simulations.”

“Hosting the winners of the annual Aviation Design Challenge is one of our favorite times of the year,” said Glasair Aviation Sales and Marketing Vice President Mark Shepard. “Congratulations to the winners and we can’t wait to have you here to experience firsthand what it’s like to build a complete aircraft.”

“Congratulations to the students of Harkness on their continued success,” said Redbird Flight Simulations President and COO Charlie Gregoire. “We are excited to host this Aviation STEM lab for such bright and talented young people. There is no better platform to introduce and apply a broad range of STEM topics than aviation. The activities highlighted in this lab combined with the simulators will give these students a much richer understanding of what aviation has to offer and will start them down a path toward a rewarding and successful career.”

“We are excited to see this level of aviation-oriented promotion to today’s students,” said Rod and Margaret Davis, the owners of the Glasair Sportsman the students will help build. “As both of us are retired aerospace engineers, we know the importance and impact of providing real-world opportunities to individuals and how these experiences can absolutely influence students’ directions toward STEM related careers.”

The 2019 Aviation Design Challenge sponsoring companies are: BBA Aviation, Boeing Global Services, Bombardier Business Aircraft, Cirrus Aircraft, Click Bond, Inc., Dassault Falcon, Embraer, ForeFlight, Garmin, GE Aviation, Glasair Aviation, Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, Hartzell Propeller, Jet Aviation, Jet Support Services Inc., Lycoming Engines, Pratt & Whitney Canada, Redbird Flight Simulations, Textron Aviation, Uber and Wipaire. Sponsors provide round-trip airfare, hotels and meals for the first-place team as well as in-kind donations.

Learn more about the organizations involved in organizing the competition and plane build at,, and