Here's a question I have about kits. There is always a lot of 'noise' about how important it is to have a kit to win or only kits can win. Which allows Wright Stuff to be attacked, unfortunately. Subjectively I don't believe that to be true. Obviously the first place plane wasn't a kit.
Note, I DO recognize the value of kits to getting started.
I'd like to have real data to refute the 'noise', can you post where you placed and whether your plane was a kit? At any level of tournament, just post that info too. Maybe add if you started with a kit.
We, of course, do not use kits. A big reason is our Regions and States are so early, we cannot wait for the kits to be produced after the rules hit the street. We were in the gym testing the second week in September! We do use online resources, such as Bill Gowen's Carbon Penny plans as a departure point. I agree that the kit is not critical, that testing and adapting is. We built 28 props this year!
Dave's kit had some influence for our plane last year, but since we took fro Bill, its fine! I think the kits, with very extensive instructions, really help a lot of schools to get started.. However, they do not guarantee success. Maybe 70-80% of the top 10 were Dave's kit,, but then so was 70-80% of the entire 60 teams. The top two teams, at least, were not Dave's kit.
Dave has always honored the "science" nature of this event, giving plenty of adjustments, and leaving room for improvement. Some of the other kits may be easier, because they are more a fixed design, and may be more optimized to be a winning platform. This could become a kit maker's race, but it has not yet. I think the upside of kits, making modeling skills available to many schools (through excellent instructions, and now through Josh's videos) far outweighs the stigma of kits.
The danger is if we get to the "kit of the month club", especially if newer manufacturers update their product throughout the year. Of course, as a scratch building team, we could also build something new each month.
That said, we will always do our own thing!