A group of engineering students built a 2.2 metre-wide glider in their student accommodation during lockdown.

Despite most students being impacted by lockdown, the group of aerospace engineering students from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

The team of 16 designed a 11-metre-wide piloted glider which would fly at 20 knots and were planning to use the facilities in the University’s new engineering centre to build the aircraft before Covid-19 restrictions halted access to the campus.

Development Lead Louis Frommweiler, 20, from Strasbourg, in France, said: “We’d originally decided to use carbon fibre, aluminium and specialist foam as the main materials but when lockdown hit, we made the decision to make a remote piloted glider that was a fifth of the original size as that would still cover the project brief and we could build it in our accommodation.

“A few of us live together so our flat became a workshop and the kitchen table became a workbench. We had to change our planned materials, meaning we used lots of 3D printing, our textbooks became weights and lots of the team headed off into the city to buy clamps and drill bits to make it work.”

The group’s 2.2-metre-wide glider made its successful maiden flight last week at the UCLan Flight Test Area, near Inskip.

Design Lead Alex Child-Morris, from Brighouse, was responsible for remote piloting the glider and explained how the team were still working on the device as it was being transferred to the launch rail.

The 22-year-old said: “We still had some last-minute modifications to do at the airfield. We had our trusty ‘workshop in a bag’ so were like an F1 pit crew team drilling, screwing and sawing.

“It was great to see it glide as we knew we’d overcome so many challenges to get to that point. As engineers, it’s our job to come up with solutions to problems so we were delighted our forced changes worked as planned.”

The original glider would have been piloted by Dr Abdullah Desai, UCLan’s Course Leader of Aerospace Engineering and Pilot Studies.

He said: “I was so confident in their abilities that I said I would use my pilot licence to fly their glider.

“I was delighted to see how they responded to the challenges forced on them by the national lockdown.

“They excelled, ensuring they met the brief, and in doing so became the very first student-led UCLan team to design an aircraft and fly it.

“It was a fantastic achievement and I’m immensely proud of all of them.”