HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – A group of local Civil Air Patrol cadets placed second at a national drone competition.

The Redstone Composite Squadron attended the annual EAA Oshkosh AirVenture aviation convention, participating in the Academy of Model Aeronautics UAS4STEM competition (unmanned aerial systems for science, technology, engineering, and math).

In preparation for the two-day competition, a group of middle and high school students designed and built a mid-sized, quad-propellor drone.

The Redstone Composite Squadron drone undergoing the build process in preparation for the UAS4STEM competition. (Photo courtesy Civil Air Patrol, Redstone Composite Squadron)

On the first day, the group conducted a flight readiness review, presenting the drone to a panel of judges and telling them the specifics of their design, their focus on safety, as well as any intriguing lessons learned during the design and build.

On day two, the drone took flight. During the flight phase, the team’s drone was required to navigate to eight specific waypoints on the field on its own without any input from the team. In addition, the drone was also required to find three eight-ounce water bottles on the field, pick them up, and deliver them to separate landing targets. While the drone could navigate on its own in this part of the competition, teams were also allowed to manually navigate.

The Redstone Composite Squadron got creative and simple with their mechanism for picking up the bottles – by using glue traps! Squadron officials said this was the simplest mechanism in the competition.

Members of the squadron put in several hundred hours of volunteer work over the last few months – and it paid off! The second-place finish bested the team’s fifth-place finish in 2021, and this year’s finish was against 2021’s champion – Some Assembly Required from Rockville, Maryland – and second-place finisher McIntosh Aeronautics from Peachtree City, Georgia.

Two of the cadets in the Redstone Squadron are taking their skills even further – they’re working on getting qualified as drone pilots for Civil Air Patrol’s emergency services mission.