Due to work by the city inside the building we will be opening at 1230pm on our Resident's Free Tuesday on May 14th.

Fly Your Ride Flying Car Competition 2019

Congratulations to all of our 2019 winners!

Distance: Classic

1st: Graham Balas and Cameron Lyle

2nd: Hailey Hendrickson and Taran Sangera

3rd: Robbie Johnston and Jacob Polak

Distance: Drop and Roll

1st: Jenna Cochran

2nd: Michael Couri and Nathan Manzo

3rd: (TIE) Brianna Chau

3rd: (TIE) Sofia Carniglia

Creativity in Engineering

- Colin Riley and Liam Ouellette

- Megan Beckes and Lauren Lundy

- Riley Hughes and Michael Taylor

Creativity in Design

- Claire Buck and Maria Carcamise

- Brianna White

- Ethan Shiffer

You can read the full rules below, but the idea is simple: build a vehicle, release it down a ramp, and try to land it safely on the other side of the gap. It can't be too big, it can't be too expensive, and it can't be too dangerous, but the rest is up to you and your imagination.

If the thrill of creating your own airborne masterpiece isn't enough, cash prizes will be awarded for creativity and distance, thanks to support from SDG&E, The ISTAT Foundation, and the Kenneth T. and Eileen L. Norris Foundation!


Fly Your Ride is open to students in grades 6-9. 


  • Creativity – What was it about your design that was new, special, or original? We award prizes for creative thinking, even if your vehicle doesn't go the distance.
    • Creativity in Design
    • Creativity in Engineering
  • Distance – We will award a prize for the vehicle that jumps the widest gap and is able to land within designated boundaries on the other side of the ramp.
    • NEW! Due to popular demand, this year the distance competition will be split into two new categories:
      • Fly Your Ride: Drop and Roll - Vehicles may be designed to intentionally release mass during launch or flight.
      • Fly Your Ride: Classic - Vehicles may not shed or release any components once released from the top of the ramp.


Distance: Classic

  • 1st place - distance: $750
  • 2nd place - distance: $500
  • 3rd place - distance: $350

Distance: Drop and Roll

  • 1st place - distance: $400
  • 2nd place - distance: $250
  • 3rd place - distance: $100

NEW! 3 prizes for creativity in engineering: $350 each

NEW! 3 prizes for creativity in design: $350 each


Stage 1: Gather your crew

You’ll need to form your team – which can be from one to five students. You’ll also need an adult coach (it can be a teacher, parent, or other adult in a role of responsibility in your life). Their role is to help facilitate your meetings and to submit the paperwork, not to generate your ideas or create your vehicle for you. Only one adult can be listed as a coach, although we understand that more than one adult may be involved in hosting meetings, helping with power tools, etc.

Stage 2: Design your ride

DEADLINE EXTENDED - You will need to submit your initial design to us no later than 5 PM PST on February 1, 2019. Each student can only be on one team, and only one design can be submitted per team. Each submission must include the following:

  • The essential information:
    • Student name(s)
    • Student grade(s)
    • Student email (if you have one) so we can stay in touch with you throughout the competition.
    • Coach's name
    • Coach's email 
  • A blueprint of your design (we keep the original - so please make a copy for your own records)
    • All measurements need to be labeled with units (i.e. inches or centimeters)
    • All parts of your vehicle should be labeled with intended materials and intended function
    • This drawing can be no bigger than one side of an 11x17 sheet of paper
  • An itemized budget for your items (we want to see creativity, not just the team with the most money)
    • An entry should not cost more than $30 in parts, maximum.
    • If items are donated or already in your possession, an estimated value should be placed on them. 
    • Tip: Using recycled or scrapped items may be a way to keep your costs down. 

Your entry can be submitted via email to swasserman (at) sdasm.org or mailed to the SDASM Education Department, 2001 Pan American Plaza, San Diego, CA 92101, and must be postmarked by January 29, 2019.

Please make sure you keep the original and send us a copy. We cannot be held responsible for entries lost in the mail, or not received via email.

Stage 3: Tinker. Tailor. Solder. Fly?

Time to get serious about turning your blueprint into a reality. Our judging team will evaluate your entry, and choose which teams can move forward to the next stage. Teams will be notified of their entry status by February 22, 2019.

Once you get the go ahead to start building, you will then have the opportunity (at your request) to talk to our experts. They may be able to provide advice on modifying your vehicle. This contact must be made via the competition organizers, and not directly with the experts.

Stage 4: The big day!

Finals will be held on April 13, 2019 at the San Diego Air & Space Museum.


Vehicle Specifications

Vehicle Materials and Power

  • Your vehicle can be as heavy or as light as you like. It can be made out of any material (as long as it is considered safe by the judging committee). It can have wheels, or not.
  • The majority, if not all, of your vehicle should be made from original materials and should be of your own design (no model kits, pre-made cars, following instructions for a kit, etc.). 
    • 3D printed parts are allowed, but they should make up no more than 20% of the overall design.
    • Legos/K'Nex/other construction kits are allowed, but cannot make up more than 50% of your design 
  • The vehicle is not allowed to spill anything (such as water), dig into the ramp surface, or otherwise do anything that might damage the ramp surface.
  • For the Classic category: No item may be intentionally shed from your vehicle. Should part of your vehicle fall off during flight, it will be up to judge discretion whether your entry advances.
  • For the Drop and Roll category: Any item that is intentionally designed to be shed from your vehicle during launch must be declared before the competition and must not damage the surface of the ramp. Judges will evaluate the safety of the design before allowing the vehicle on the ramp. 
  • Your vehicle cannot have internal electric power (no remote control cars, for example), gas power (including compressed air, however balloons are allowed), or solar power. It may not use any other kind of fuel source including chemical, such as soda and Mentos.
  • No flame of any kind can be used. Helium can be used under adult supervision, but liquefied gasses cannot be used.
  • It can use internally-wound tension, such as a rubber band or a spring, or it can use the gravity of the slope alone. The ramp will not have a backboard, so your vehicle will not be able to “push” off anything to begin (for example, a large spring).
  • Teams will be allowed to prepare their vehicle (for example, winding a spring or blowing up a balloon) before releasing it at the top of the ramp.
  • No mousetrap cars. The judges are looking for creativity in engineering; we know that one works, show us something new!
  • Remember: An entry should not cost more than $30 in parts, maximum. Using recycled materials may be a way to keep your costs down.

Vehicle Measurements

  • The overall size of the core of your vehicle can be no more than 16 by 8 by 5 inches – the size of a larger shoe box.
  • Wheel and axles can protrude no more than 2 inches from the vehicle if the vehicle is already at its maximum core size.
  • If you wish (and you do not have to) we will allow you to add wing-like protrusions from the side or top of your vehicle. No matter the core size of your vehicle, these extensions cannot:
    • raise the overall height of your vehicle by more than 4 inches
    • extend further than the front of your vehicle
    • extend more than 2 inches from the back of your vehicle
    • extend more than 12 inches from the sides of your vehicle (12 inches per side)
  • Balloons, parachutes, and propellers can protrude no more than 12 inches from the vehicle while in flight.

The Ramp

Rules of the ramp

  • As the competition proceeds, the gap will widen each round, beginning at two feet, then be increased to three feet, then four feet, after which it will continue to be widened six inches at a time, at judge discretion, to choose a winner.
  • Unless it is physically impossible or unsafe to do so, the student that is competing needs to drop their own car. A stepladder will be provided on competition day.
  • The vehicle has to run down the entire launch ramp, and can only take off from the end.
  • The majority of your car (by volume) and all of its wheels must make it to the other side of the gap in order to advance. Boundaries will be set on each side of the ramp. Whether landing on or overshooting the ramp, at touchdown, the majority of your car and all of its wheels must be within the designated boundaries on the other side of the
  • Teams will be allowed extra time to modify their vehicle as the ramp distance changes if they request it, but will only be given four minutes per round to do so. Timing will be at the discretion of the judges.

Ramp Details

  • Our ramp is 6 feet and 1/2 inch tall by 2 feet and 9 inches wide, and it is 6 feet long.
  • The top platform of the ramp is 11 inches by 2 feet and 9 inches.
  • The ramp surface, from top to jump, is 9 feet.
  • The length of the drop from the top to the beginning of the radius is 4 feet and 9 inches with a 70 degree incline.
  • The curve is an 18 inch radius, and the exit angle or release angle is 28 degrees.
  • The landing ramp is 1 foot and 7 inches high (equal to the end of the jump ramp) by 2 feet and 9 inches wide, and the length of the landing ramp is 4 feet and 5 1/2 inches.
  • The ramp cannot be altered during the competition (such as water or grease being added to the ramp).
  • If you would like to make your own ramp and need more measurements, please contact us at swasserman (at) sdasm.org

We love creative ideas, and we understand that the rules listed above may not cover every possibility that innovative student minds might come up with. We’re hoping, in fact, that students are so creative that they will come up with ideas that have never occurred to us! The judging committee will evaluate every vehicle from a safety and originality point of view. We reserve the right to amend the above specifications to ensure the safety of all participants and encourage you to contact us during your design process if you are unsure whether your design would be allowed.

We reserve the option to keep and display your entries in the museum and/or other venues, including online. We would love to show off your success!

Please feel free to contact the contest coordinator, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), with any further questions or clarifications.

Good luck and we will see you at the San Diego Air & Space Museum!

Kenneth T. & Eileen L. Norris Foundation

San Diego Air & Space Museum

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