The remarkable feat of a Human Powered Aircraft (HPA)

(First posted on June 9, 2021, updated on September 3, 2021)

 

Have you ever heard of an HPA? Did you know that there is a world record established by an HPA? “The Daedalus 88”, a marvel of aeronautical engineering, was designed and built by an MIT team and set a world record of 115.11 km in 3 hours and 54 minutes in Greece in 1988. The photo below shows Daedalus 88. 

 

 

The pilot manipulates pedals like riding a bicycle, but instead of turning a wheel he rotates a propeller that will enable an HPA to take off from the ground and land. Incidentally, the pilot for the Daedalus 88 happened to be a Greek cycling champion at the time and was selected from among 100 or so candidates. It is incredible that this world record has not been beaten by anybody since then.

 

There was also a record for crossing the English Channel in 1979. “the Gossamer Albatross” flew 35.82 km in 2 hours and 49minutes, and got the Kremer (a British industry tycoon) prize of 100,000 UK pounds

 

 

The photo shows the Gossamer Albatross in one of the practice flights. You can see that there are marked differences in that the propeller is located at the back pushing the HPA, while the tail plane is in the front. 

 

Now turning to Japan for HPA events. Every year, there is an event called “the Japan International Birdman Rally” at Biwa Lake (the biggest lake in Japan) in Shiga prefecture sponsored by a national TV company. This year it will be the 43rd rally. HPAs as well as gliders will take off from a 10-meter-high platform built on the lake and land inevitably on the water.

 

                                                    The photo by lasta 29

 

The HPA record for the said rally was made in 2019 with a distance of 60 km. For a glider 501.38 meters was made in 2012. Did you know that there is a requisite for pilots to be able to swim? The rally for 2021 was held on July 31 and August 1 for both HPA and glider events. There was no rally in 2020 due to COVID-19.   

 

Lastly, let me show you a Human Powered Helicopter. In 2013, a Toronto University team built the machine that flew for 64 seconds and attained an altitude of 3.3 meters, and succeeded in getting the US$250,000 Sikorsky prize. 

 

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