STEM Flight Scenario Exercise

STEM Flight Scenario Exercise
Student writing an essay.
This exercise requires students draft an essay detailing why they want to be part of the aviation and/or aerospace industry. It also challenges them to use principles of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to explain desirable conditions for taking off an aircraft - in the least amount of distance.

Previously this essay has been utilized by NCTCOG staff as part of Russell Maryland Aviation Outreach efforts.

In the form of an essay competition, staff, educators, and Russell Maryland partnered to encourage students of local high school aviation programs to use as a resource to learn more about which field of aviation interests them the most. Winners of the competition had the opportunity to pilot a full motion flight simulator on March 23, 2013, at CAE's corporate aviation training facility, located at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

Essay Topic

Students are encouraged to write about "why they want a career in aviation and aerospace" and include aspects of the industry that fascinate them the most. They may include any relevant activities, studies, or experiences that support their claim. Essay submissions will also require students to select one of the flight scenarios below and describe why they believe it to be correct.

Essay Qualifications and Criteria

  • Students must work with educators to develop a carefully crafted essay with proper use of grammar and punctuation.
  • The essay must be written using a word processing software and submitted with an appropriately formatted memo addressed to the instructor.
  • The criteria and example scenarios below may be used in conjunction with the essay topic:
  1. Three pages minimum; four pages maximum (single sided)
  2. Double spaced
  3. Size 11 Arial font

Flight Scenarios (Choose One)

You have been selected as the pilot to fly a corporate executive and several colleagues on a quick day-long business trip. The business jet will be departing from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. As a General Aviation Pilot, you will need to use aviation knowledge as well as STEM skills to determine which of the flight scenarios below will take off in the shortest amount of distance. Please read the details of each flight scenario and explain in your essay which you believe is the best option and why.

Scenario 1

It is a hot day in Dallas and you will be departing from Runway 17R with a strong tailwind. The weather report indicates low atmospheric pressure at the airport. Your passengers brought a large amount of baggage and equipment so the airplane is loaded near its maximum takeoff weight.

Scenario 2

It is a cold day in Dallas and you are departing from Runway 17R with a strong head wind. The weather report indicates high atmospheric pressure at the airport. Your passengers came without any luggage and the airplane will be relatively low in weight.


Please contact NCTCOG Aviation staff with any feedback or examples of how you have used this exercise in your classroom.

A flight simulator must be able to take a pilot through any series of flight simulations - from bad weather to landing on unpaved runways.

Watch the video above to find out how a flight simulator is made.