NASA awarded a total of $97,000 in prizes at the 2008 General Aviation Technology Challenge. The challenge asked competitors to demonstrate innovations that would lead to aircraft that are safer, more affordable, easier to fly and also have less of a negative impact on the environment and on the communities that surround airports.

The challenge was managed by the Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency, or CAFE, Foundation at the Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa, Calif., from Aug. 4 through Aug. 10. All competitors had experimental licenses, as required by the Federal Aviation Administration, since aircraft were modified with new innovations for this competition.

The largest prize awarded was $50,000 for the aircraft with the overall best safety features which went to Vance Turner's team from El Dorado Hills, Calif., flying a modified Pipistrel Virus. The Pipistrel team also won prizes for the shortest takeoff distance and best angle of climb. Turner's team shared the lowest cabin noise prize with a team led by John Dunham of Carson City, Nev.

Dunham's team used a customized Lambada aircraft to win $20,000 for the community noise prize. Pilot Bob Basham, flying a Flight Design-CT, won a prize of $3,750 for best glide ratio at 100 mph.

A $50,000 Green Aviation Prize purse was offered, but no team was able to exceed the minimum requirement of 30 miles per gallon, although all the competitors came close. The prize money not won this year will roll over to next year's competition, which will have over $600,000 in prize money.

The General Aviation Technology Challenge is one of seven NASA technology prize competitions. The prize program began in 2005 and is known as Centennial Challenges, in recognition of the centennial of powered flight. In keeping with the spirit of the Wright Brothers and other American innovators, the Centennial Challenge prizes are offered to independent inventors who work without government support, including small businesses, student groups and individuals.

The prize competitions are targeted at a range of technical challenges that support NASA's missions in aeronautics and space. The goal is to encourage novel solutions from non-traditional sources. For the program, NASA provides the prize money while each of the competitions is managed by an independent allied organization at no cost to NASA. NASA's Innovative Partnerships Program Office manages the Centennial Challenges program.

For more information on the program, visit:

For more information about NASA's Innovative Partnership Program, visit: