Flying Start Challenge

Inspiring engineers of the future

Flying Start Challenge

Inspiring engineers of the future

Flying Start Challenge

Inspiring engineers of the future

Flying Start Challenge

Inspiring engineers of the future

Flying Start Challenge

Inspiring engineers of the future

Flying Start Challenge

Inspiring engineers of the future

Flying Start Challenge

Inspiring engineers of the future

Welcome to Flying Start Challenge

Flying Start Challenge is a STEM competition for local schools in the South West of England which is run and sponsored by eight aerospace engineering companies: Airbus, Atkins, BAE Systems, GKN Aerospace, Leonardo, MBDA, Rolls-Royce and Safran Landing Systems.

The challenge is designed to allow students to develop their knowledge of flight, and gain some hands on engineering experience. Whilst doing this, we aim to provide an opportunity for pupils to build on their soft skills such as teamwork, communication and problem solving, whilst also having fun.

The aim is for teams composed of four students to design, build and test a model glider that they will present at their regional Fly-Off, where each team will have the chance to fly their glider against schools from the same region. Teams will be judged on various criteria such as the distance flown, innovative design, use of recycled materials, and more which will be detailed in a poster presentation. Winning teams from each regional Fly-Off get the chance to compete at the Grand Final held at the Fleet Air Arm Museum in Yeovil!


Grand Final 2019 – what a day!

And… breathe!

On the 27th March 2019, the Fleet Air Arm Museum hosted the Grand Final, and what an amazing day it was. The pupils involved were tested all day, through a combination of presentations, engineering activities and of course the fly off! 

The committee would like to say a huge thank you to the museum staff for helping us to host another incredible day. Along with this, a special thank you to our guest speaker John Sorsby who delivered an excellent speech regarding his job as a commercial pilot, the EDT and RAeS, our VIPs and of course the volunteers – without all of you the day could not have been such a resounding success.

Read the full 2018/19 Grand Final article HERE!




CLICK HERE to see the winners of the Bristol, Yeovil and Gloucester Regional Finals!

All the listed teams have earnt themselves a place at the Grand Final which is being held at the Fleet Air Arm Museum in Yeovil on Tuesday 24th March. Here, they will compete to be crowned Flying Start Challenge Champions for 2020!

“We want to say a big THANK YOU for organising a great day, the students had lots of fun and are excited to take part again next year!”

Gavin Johnson, Churchdown School Academy - Gloucester Region


Airbus is the leading aircraft manufacturer with the most modern and comprehensive family of airliners on the market, ranging in capacity from 100 to more than 500 seats. Over 10,000 Airbus aircraft have been sold to more than 300 customers worldwide and more than 6,500 of these have been delivered since the company first entered the market in the early seventies.


Atkins is the largest multidisciplinary engineering consultancy in Europe, and provides skills and solutions to a wide variety of clients. Atkins Aerospace business has offices throughout the world and specialises in delivering tailored solutions to its clients, with a strong focus on innovation and programme management.

BAE Systems

BAE Systems provides some of the world’s most advanced, technology-led defence, aerospace and security solutions, and employs 83,100 people in over 40 countries. Working with customers and local partners, the company develops, engineers, manufactures and supports products and systems to deliver military capability, protect national security and people, and keep critical information and infrastructure secure.

GKN Aerospace

GKN Aerospace is a first tier supplier to the global aviation industry. A leader in the manufacture of highly complex composite and metallic aerostructures and engine products, the company is equally focused on military and civil markets. GKN has a network of more than 58,000 employees across over 30 countries at the forefront of technology.


Leonardo employs around 7,000 people throughout the UK, 67% of whom hold highly skilled positions. It is one of the largest employers of engineering apprentices and graduates in the UK, with some 415 people on undergraduate, graduate and apprentice training programmes. The company’s apprenticeship programme was rated as ‘Outstanding’ by OFSTED.


MBDA is a world leader in missiles and missile systems. It is a multi-national company made up of over 10,000 employees working across the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain and the US. It is also the first truly integrated European defence company.


Rolls-Royce is one of the world’s leading producers of aero engines for large civil aircraft and corporate jets. It is the second largest provider of defence aero engines in the world. Rolls-Royce is well established in the marine sector where it designs vessels and integrates power systems. It has a growing presence in civil nuclear power, drawing on its skills and experience of over 50 years in powering nuclear submarines.

Safran Landing Systems

Safran Landing Systems is the world leader in aircraft landing and braking systems, and part of the Safran international group. Company capabilities range from design and manufacture to in-service support, repair and overhaul. It is a partner to 30 leading commercial, military, business and regional airframers, and supports more than 27,000 aircraft making over 54,000 landings every day. Safran group operates in the aviation (propulsion, equipment and interiors), defense and space markets with a global presence of more than 92,000 employees working in locations across Europe, North America and Asia.

Fleet Air Arm Museum

The Fleet Air Arm Museum – representing the flying arm of the Royal Navy – houses the largest collection of Naval aircraft in Europe, including aircraft which are the sole survivors of their kind. The museum offers visitors the chance to go on board the British prototype Concorde 002, as well as the experience of a simulated recovery on deck of a Buccaneer and the launch of a Phantom.

Industrial Cadets

The Flying Start Challenge is accredited by Industrial Cadets at Bronze Level, and upon completion of the challenge, each individual Cadet who has committed to at least 20 hours to the project receives a Bronze Level Award, and certificate and badge to reward them and highlight the skills they have achieved.