Fly Your Ride 2020

(please see entry information below)

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 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

 - NEW! Sustainable Creativity - awarded to an entry showing ingenuity with majority recyclable materials 

Distance – We will award prizes in each category for the vehicles that jump the widest gap and are able to land within designated boundaries on the other side of the ramp.

 - Classic - vehicles may not shed or release any components once released from the top of the ramp.

 - Drop and Roll - vehicles may be designed to intentionally release mass during launch or flight.


Distance: Classic

1st place - distance: $700

2nd place - distance: $450

3rd place - distance: $300

Distance: Drop and Roll

1st place - distance: $400

2nd place - distance: $300

3rd place - distance: $200

Creativity in Engineering: 3 prizes of $300 each

Creativity in Design: 3 prizes of $300 each

NEW! Sustainable Creativity - $300





Stage 1: Gather your crew

Form a team with one to five students and one adult coach. 

Note: your coach can be a teacher, a parent, or other adult in a role of responsibility, but their job is to help support your ideas and ensure safety, NOT to create your vehicle for you. 

Stage 2: Design your ride

Submit your initial design to us no later than ***DEADLINE EXTENDED MIDNIGHT PST on February 1, 2020.  

Each student can only be on one team, and only one design can be submitted per team. Coaches may supervise more than one team.

Each submission must include the following:

1. 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

2. 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, AND qualify for our NEW Sustainable Creativity award (see above).

Your entry can be submitted via our online form or mailed to the SDASM Education Department, 2001 Pan American Plaza, San Diego, CA 92101, and must be postmarked by January 31, 2020.

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.


** If you are having problems submitting your blueprint and budget:

1) Check your spam folder for the submission link

2) If you still can't find it, email your blueprint and budget to

Please make sure to still fill out the online entry form above by MIDNIGHT, FEBRUARY 1, 2020. Entries that are having technical difficulties with blueprint submission will not be penalized. 

Stage 3: Tinker. Tailor. Solder. Fly?

Teams will be notified of their entry status by February 28, 2020.

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 25, 2020 at the San Diego Air & Space Museum.




1. Your vehicle must be original

a) No model kits, pre-made cars, etc.

b) 3D printed parts should make up no more than 20% of the overall design.

c) Legos/K'Nex/other construction kits cannot make up more than 50% of your design.

2. Your vehicle must be safe.

a) No flames, liquefied gases, or compressed air.

b) The vehicle cannot damage the surface of the ramp, or potentially cause harm to judges or spectators.

3. Your vehicle may not use an electrical or chemical power source.

a) Balloons, springs, and rubber bands are allowed.

b) 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.

cFor 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.

4. Your vehicle must meet all size restrictions.

a) The core body of your vehicle may not measure more than 16 in x 8 in x 5 in.

b) Wheels and axles may not protrude more than 4 inches from the vehicle.

c) Nothing may extend from the front of your vehicle.

d) Balloons/parachutes/etc. may not extend more than 12 inches from vehicle while in flight.

e) Wings/fins/propellers cannot:

- Raise the height of your vehicle by more than 4 inches

- Extend more than 12 inches from any other side of the vehicle


For more information on our ramp, please see the measurements listed here.


1. A student representative from the team must release their own vehicle, unless it is physically impossible or unsafe to do so. A stepladder will be provided on competition day.

2. The majority of your car (by volume) and all of its wheels must land on the other side of the gap.

a) Vehicles may overshoot the landing ramp, but must land within the designated boundaries extending from either side of the landing ramp.

3. Your vehicle must run the entire length of the ramp, and can only take off from the end.

4. The gap will increase for each round of competition.

1st Round: Two foot gap. For the first round only, each team will be allowed a second attempt if their first attempt is unsuccessful.

2nd Round: Three foot gap.

3rd Round: Four foot gap.

All subsequent rounds: gap will increase in six inch increments each round, or at the discretion of the judges.

5. 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.

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, by clicking here, with any further questions or clarifications.

Good luck, and happy engineering!

San Diego Air & Space Museum

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