Airplane “Hacking” Contest

Contest CFP extended to August 3!

Even though we’re not doing any real airplane hacking at the Aviation Village this year, we still felt there needed to be some sort of “hacking” competition.

Please note: That this is a “fun” contest and not an official “Black Badge” contest.

We have devised a safe, fun, yet challenging hacking competition. You will “hack” an airplane. Well, a cool airplane kids scooter. Your mission is to “pimp up” your airplane in whatever manner you wish to impress the judges. Adding some tech or functionality to this dumb toy would would be very cool. The possibilities are only limited to your imagination.

You could turn it into a robot, a server, a disco light show, a tea kettle (no that would violate fire rules) or just slap some stickers and streamers on it. Anything you’d like, just make it cool.

Competition Form

Proposals must be emailed to cfp [at] aviationvillage [dot] org on or before August 3, 23:59 UTC. Recipients announced soon after.

All contestants must complete the following form with their proposal.
*=required information

_DEFCON Aviation Village Airplane “Hacking” Competition Form_

Name of Team*:

Team Members (name/handle, preferred pronouns)*:

Are you purchasing/bringing your own airplane?*:
[No|Yes|Only if not selected]

[Provide a proposal for your airplane “hack”/”pimp”. You don’t actually have to do what you propose. We are looking for creative ideas so that we can select five teams to receive the free airplanes.]

You understand that this is not a Black Badge contest. It is just for fun.

If you provide your own airplane, you still must complete this form and submit before the deadline. The airplane must be the exact same model as the one provided.

Amazon product link:

If not the exact same model, you are not eligible for the competition. If you provide your own airplane you are automatically entered in the contest upon completing and submitting this form.

All entries must be safe. They must not piss off the goons (too much), hotel staff, fire marshal or LV police. No flamethrowers, projectiles, sharp instruments, guns, grenade launchers, mini-nukes or other dangerous stuff.

Entries must follow the the Aviation Village Values and DEF CON Code of Conduct. Entries that do not meet these basic requirements will not be eligible for the competition.

You must be physically present (a team representative and your entry) at the judging to be eligible to win. All judge’s decisions are final.

Rules are subject to change at the discretion of the Aviation Village staff. Judging will be held the afternoon of Sunday the 11th (time TBD but prior to closing ceremonies)

I have read and agree to the contest terms*:
[Team lead name/handle]


The Details

The hacking target is a kids airplane scooter. It’s about 14” tall (wheels to the tip of the backrest), 18” wide (wingtip-to-wingtip), and about 20” long (spinner to backrest). It is supposed to be the character, “Dusty”, from the Disney movie “Planes”.

The “Airplane”
With a Pilot (Sully?)

Phillips screws are located on the bottom and hold the whole thing together. The screws are deeply set so an extra long screwdriver would be recommended. We’ll try to have one available.

The plane has all sorts of special sound effects, buttons and spinning prop. As shown in the photo the prop has 4 LEDs on one of the propellers which light up/blink making a POV like display (oh, the possibilities)

We would recommend using a Arduino, Raspberry Pi, or other embedded computer (laptop or tablet could work too) to create the most awesome hacks but your design is up to you.

We have five (5) of these airplanes already in our physical possession. Teams will need to submit a proposal, although you don’t have to build what you propose. Proposals are required to decide who gets one of the five planes and to mitigate “me too” requests. The five most interesting proposal will get a plane

If you don’t get a plane you are welcome to purchase/bring your own. They are on Amazon for about $45. Link to product:

If you buy your own airplane you are automatically eligible for the contest but you must still submit a proposal to let us know that you have obtained your own airplane and have a creative idea. Again, you don’t actually have to build what you propose.

Winners may be asked to bring their airplanes back in future years depending on their functionality. Consider a development path not a one-off.

Judging will be done Sunday mid-morning, time to be announced. The panel will consist of members of the Aviation Village staff and partners. All decisions are final. Some sort of prize will be provided although mostly it will be the honor of having “hacked” an airplane at DEF CON.

Some suggested tools, equipment, components (none of this will be provided):


  • RasPi, Arduino or other embedded computer
  • Laptop/Tablet with appropriate dev tools
  • Controls: Switches, buttons, knobs…
  • Input devices: light sensors, bump sensors, distance sensors…
  • Output devices: LED/lights, relays, motors, servos, stepper motors, sound…
  • Hookup wire
  • Bread board, dev board


  • Phillips screwdriver (long)
  • Soldering iron and solder
  • Dremel -like tool
  • Hacksaw/cutoff tool – The axle is metal and one piece. Wheels do not turn separately.
  • Duct Tape!


  • Paint
  • Stickers
  • Streamers
  • My Little Pony hood ornament
  • Fuzzy dice

More photos and data will be provided. Gurney will be building one too but it will not be entered in the contest. He will be making a build video/blog of some sort. Check for updates