How the competition works

Schools interested in the competition will receive complimentary “Fly to Learn” curricula, which comes with flight simulation software powered by X-Plane.

Teachers will guide students through the science of flight and airplane design, completing the curricula in either a typical classroom pace of approximately two weeks or one week through an accelerated program.

Each high school will apply what they have learned by modifying the design of an airplane. The schools will then compete in a virtual fly-off, which will be scored on aerodynamic and performance parameters while flying a specific mission profile.

Judges from GAMA will select the winning school based on that score and other factors.

The Challenge

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) is sponsoring the 2017 Aviation Design Challenge to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education through aviation in high schools across the United States.

The Prize

The prize will include an all-expenses-paid trip for up to four high school students, one teacher, and one chaperone to experience general aviation manufacturing firsthand.


Software Installation Instructions
Student High School Curriculum
Teacher High School Curriculum

Resources including webinars, presentation slides and videos



Now through January 31, 2017

Registration period open for teachers at eligible schools to sign up for the GAMA 2016 Aviation Design Challenge.

February 7-14, 2017

Teachers receive Fly to Learn curricula and software powered by X-Plane from GAMA.

February 21-March 31, 2017

Online seminars offered by Fly to Learn.

March 24, 2017

Teachers receive competition instructions from GAMA.

April 21, 2017

All competition entries must be received by GAMA.

May 2017

Winning high school announced; all other high schools notified.

What past winners say

  • “The Aviation Design Challenge sponsored by GAMA and the Two Weeks To Taxi program at Glasair Aviation are experiences my students will never forget. The progress each of the students made in the areas of communication, teamwork, and technical skills will serve them well for the rest of their lives. Every aspect of this experience, from using the X-Plane software to the in-depth hands-on training they received in Arlington, Washington, has been an opportunity for the students to grow and experience science and engineering in a very unique and exciting way.” Teacher Mike Hansen, Weyauwega-Fremont High School, Weyauwega, WI, 2016 winner.”

    2016 Winning Team

  • “This competition, and ultimate victory, will be life-changing for my kids. I can’t thank you enough … for the positive impact you are making in the life of a kid.” Principal Grant Hanevold, Sunrise Mountain High School in Las Vegas, Nevada, 2014 winner.”

    2014 Winning Team

  • “The GAMA competition has taught us the importance of teamwork, creativity, and critical thinking. We learned a great deal about STEM, how to test our aircraft consistently, and how to make very finite changes to our plane to get better results. The competition has been an excellent learning experience for us!” Students Abri Badger, Colton Koester, Nathan Koester, and Jonathan Smythe of the CHEF Homeschoolers, Cuba City, Wisconsin, 2015 winner”

    2015 Winning Team

  • ““It opened up my eyes to what the industry was like. In the aerospace industry everyone loves their jobs. Everyone loves coming to work. Airplanes are fun and challenging to build. I love a good challenge.” Lee Luckhardt, Saline High School, Saline, Michigan, as quoted by Kettering University. Saline and Canby High School in Canby, Minnesota were the 2013 winners.  ”

    2013 Winning Team

Register Today

Teachers interested in the contest should  register by clinking on this immediately, as space is limited to the first 100 high schools. Only 1 teacher per high school may register. Each team must have 4 students to be eligible for the content, and each team must include at least one male student and at least one female student.