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By Laura Hall-Matthews
After weeks of designing, building and testing, our Design and Technology class at Parkes Christian School were finally able to put our aircraft to the test at the Moomba Birdman Rally in Melbourne at the Moomba Festival. With the help from our teacher, Mr Wynstra, and the guidance from previous Moomba aircraft designer Neil Unger, we were able to design a bi-plane style flying wing to launch from a 4 metre high platform into the Yarra River. With the support of all our senior classmates, we travelled down to Melbourne with our disassembled aircraft on a trailer ready to fly.
Arriving at the launch site, our team began assembling the aircraft while the rest of the students explored the rides, food and entertainment that the Moomba festival had to offer. Hearts were racing and nerves were high as we got closer to launching our aircraft but the friendliness of the other competitors and the advice we were given all added to the positive atmosphere of the Birdman Rally. We were able to talk to other schools who built aircrafts as well and compare our designs and share tips on how to fly. The launch of the aircraft was amazing, tens of thousands of people lined the banks of the Yarra River to watch each competitor launch their design and no matter the result each flight was met with a massive cheer from the crowd. Our aircraft flew 8 metres which made a 3-way tie with the other schools competitors and while we’re happy with the result, we’re always looking to improve our design. We did score the funniest moment trophy when the wind got us as we jumped and we spun into the water. As a group, the 17 competitors were able to raise over $100,000 for various charities.
Moomba was only part of our Melbourne experience. While in Melbourne we were also given the once in a lifetime opportunity to watch the Australian Women’s National Cricket Team in their victory over India at the MCG, followed by a great opening and closing performance by Katy Perry. We were amongst 86,000 people cheering on our girls team and even the non-cricket lovers had a great time.
We were back at the MCG the next morning for a tour through the grounds, including getting to sit in the 50 year member seats and see the change rooms, practice areas and commentary boxes. Mr Westcott was loving seeing the cricketing history and we even found some left over props from the Katy Perry concert.
The highlight for most students happened very early on in our excursion. We went ice skating and although we were slow starters most of us were determined to master the ice skating skill and keep up with Mr Wynstra. Tom Unger spent the most hours on the ice to improve and we all left with bumps and bruises but it was a really great experience.
We have had an amazing experience and we thank everyone for your well wishes and donations in the lead up to the Moomba event.