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Magnificent boys and their flying machine

PUBLISHED: 19:27 16 July 2008 | UPDATED: 10:34 12 July 2010

Elliot Sheppard, left, and Thomas Dowden with their flying machine.

Elliot Sheppard, left, and Thomas Dowden with their flying machine.

Two young engineers from Norfolk have triumphed in a national competition.

Elliot Sheppard and Thomas Dowden, both 11, from Bressingham Primary School, near Diss, have become the 2008 K'Nex Challenge champions after winning the national final at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, on Tuesday.

Two young engineers from Norfolk have triumphed in a national competition.

Elliot Sheppard and Thomas Dowden, both 11, from Bressingham Primary School, near Diss, have become the 2008 K'Nex Challenge champions after winning the national final at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, on Tuesday.

Sixteen teams reached the final out of hundreds of teams from across England.

Using the K'Nex construction kit provided, the boys had to design, build and demonstrate a model flying machine capable of carrying three packages of cargo, all in a two hour time frame.

The boys' model was a twin propeller powered aircraft, which featured a swing wing design to enable vertical take-off. The undercarriage had a novel suspension to cushion landing.

Stuart Ellins, chief executive of the Young Engineers organization, said: “We saw fixed wing, helicopter and hybrid designs today, but the winners' model just blew the judges away.”

Elliot said: “Although we didn't know until the challenge began what we would have to build, we guessed it would be aviation-based because of the venue.

“I had been inspired by the American Osprey aircraft, which takes off vertically and by large transport planes having looked at my dad's aeroplane magazines.”

Tom said: “I was inspired by the tail-plane on the American Tom Cat fighter aircraft I saw earlier in the museum whilst on our tour”.

Working together as a team the boys designed their model to incorporate the features they most admired in their favourite aircraft. They succeeded in making a finished machine that was sturdy and well up to the task of transporting the three packages, which weighed about the same as a bag of sugar. All the parts including propellers, undercarriage and wings worked perfectly.

In addition to K'Nex construction kits, the boys each won £100 plus £750 for their school and a beautiful crystal trophy.


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