The competition rules and missions change every year. Usually, the teams must be and design to fly two missions in the competition fly-off, which is held towards the end of April, and also maintain a low Rated Aircraft Cost, a variable used to define the complexity of the design.
Different universities take different approaches at the competition. in most cases, the teams are composed of a mix of seniors and underclassmen doing DBF as an extracurricular activity. However, some universities use DBF for senior design projects and have teams of 15-25 people entirely made out of seniors. In general, historical results show that having more seniors in a team leads to a better final position at the competition.
|Year||Location||1st Place||2nd Place||3rd Place||4th Place||5th Place|
|1997||Ragged Island, MD||University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign||Virginia Tech||Texas A&M University||Utah State University||West Virginia University|
|1998||Wichita, KS||University of Southern California||Texas A&M University||Syracuse University||University of Texas, Austin||Utah State University|
|1999||Pax River, MD||Utah State University||Oklahoma State University||University of Southern California||Georgia Tech||Texas A&M University|
|2000||Wichita, KS||Utah State University||Oklahoma State University 1||Illinois Institute of Technology||Georgia Tech||Oklahoma State University 2|
|2001||Pax River, MD||Oklahoma State University (Orange)||CalPoly - San Luis Obispo||Oklahoma State University (Black)||University of Southern California||Utah State University|
|2002||Wichita, KS||University of California, San Diego||University of Southern California||West Virginia University||University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign||Universita degli Studi di Roma|
|2003||Ridgely Airpark, MD||San Diego State University||CalPoly - San Luis Obispo||Universita degli Studi di Roma||University of Southern California||Oklahoma State University (Black)|
|2004||Wichita, KS||Oklahoma State University (Black)||Oklahoma State University (Orange)||University of Southern California||University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign||CalPoly - San Luis Obispo|
|2005||Pax River, MD||Oklahoma State University (Black)||Oklahoma State University (Orange)||Washington State University||Virginia Tech||University of California, San Diego|
|2006||Wichita, KS||Oklahoma State University (Black)||Oklahoma State University (Orange)||CalPoly - San Luis Obispo||University of Southern California||Istambul institute of Technology|
|2007||Tucson, AZ||Massachusetts Institute of Technology||Oklahoma State University (Orange)||Purdue University||Oklahoma State University (Black)||Wichita State University|
|2008||Wichita, KS||Oklahoma State University (Black)||University of Texas, Austin (The Hornworks)||Oklahoma State University (Orange)||University of Texas, Austin (Orange Bullet)||University of Colorado - Boulder|