National Free Flight Society


Science Olympiad Coaches

The Science Olympiad coach’s job is challenging: managing a blend of

Coach Chuck with a Science Olympiad student at Lakehurst, New Jersey for the US Junior Indoor Team Trials.

study, lab, and build events, while keeping everyone on track! NFFS is working to provide a broad range of resources to help your students excel in the flying events. We recognize that many head coaches have no experience in flying indoor models, so we want to guide you in maximizing your team’s chance of success.


Unlike other SO build events, this is NOT a design event, but rather a flight optimization event. Therefore, KITS ARE ALLOWED, and they provide a great starting point for teams that are new to flying events. A number of the kit makers on the resources page have excellent instruction manuals, and even online videos of the build process.   As a coach, be sure to acquire the proper tools for your students, including building boards, knives, glue, winder, torque meter (highly recommended), etc. Most of the kits will include a list of required tools, as does this set of tips from Jeff Englert.


The second HUGE area of need for coach input is a flying site. This should be a gymnasium or similar open space, preferably with ceiling at 24 feet or higher. School gyms are often in use for sports, so you may need to call in some favors or get some gym time at odd hours. A strong team will have at least a weekly 2-hour flying session throughout the season. The HVAC system should be off, if at all possible, as these planes can get pretty beat up from the air blowers.  This is often arranged with the custodial staff once they understand why you are asking for it.


Third, provide a safe place to build and store the planes. Light breezes will destroy these planes, so a plastic bin of appropriate size is important. I prefer a bin large enough to store the assembled plane. Small chunks of foam can be inserted with hot melt glue, with a slit to capture the motor stick of the plane. Having a bin large enough for the assembled plane takes some variability out on the day of the event.

Finally, as a coach, insist on flight logs. While these are required at the contest, just meeting the minimum log requirement is not sufficient for success. Every flight should be logged, changing one variable at a time. The logs can be studied to find trends and to optimize results. The coach, if not involved in the flying sessions, should insist on reviewing the logs with the students weekly, and asking what the students find meaningful in the results.


2023–2024 Coaches Clinic
To be used for orienting coaches to the 2023–2024 rules, as well as some build and fly guidance.

Coaches Clinic, Wright Stuff Build, Chuck Markos, 2019

Coaches’ Clinic – A presentation that reviews the Flight event, changes from last year, and tips and tricks.
In Video, PDF, and PPT formats, with placeholders for presenter’s name and contact info.

Putting on a Flight Seminar (coming soon)