We reported here last year on a flying bicycle being designed by Duratec Bicycles and Evektor Aviation using Dassault 3D CAD software. The companies revealed their actual flying demonstrator at a press conference this week, but the pilot stood nearby with a radio control transmitter while a mannequin was flown around the large room.
For now, it can do that for only five minutes, but Michael Duchek, technical director for Duratec, has hope. “Because the capacity of batteries doubles about every ten years, we can expect that in the future the capacity would be enough for the bike to be used for sports, tourism or similar things”
Its six propellers arranged much like a quadrotor, currently popular with design teams intent on delivering tacos, burritos, pizzas and even sushi by air, the bike’s greater weight and bulk make it more of a handful to fly. Pilot Jan Spatny says, “It’s not as easy (to control) as a toy or RC (Remote Control) model. It’s quite a complicated thing; you have to take into account that it weighs 95 kilos. You have to take into account motionlessness and other things.”
It may even have a real pilot some day, since it has the ability to lift up to 11 and half stone (A “stone” is an antiquated measurement equal to 14 pounds. 11.5 stone would be 161 pounds.)
The BBC noted an earlier successful flight by a flying bicycle which combined pedal power, a two-stroke engine and a big parachute. Not as “green” as the Czech machine, it was a great deal more practical in terms of allowing a very long trip from Lands End in Cornwall County, England to John O’Groats at the northern end of Scotland. Flown for a juvenile diabetes charity and raising much more than its planned amount, the journey was an 11-day epic that started with 30 miles of “fierce pedaling,” then went airborne, covering the length of the United Kingdom.
“The bike has to be refuelled about every two hours, is able to carry up to 25.4kg (56lb) of luggage, and can reach a flying speed of about 32km/h (20mph). According to Mr. Carver’s website, the device is now for sale.
“Companies such as Para-Cycle sell similar devices as well, but a huge parachute may prove cumbersome for the city commuter.”
John Carver’s mechanical and technical statistics for the flight, including the number of insulin shots needed for the trip, help us understand his motivations.
The BBC report shared some details about the technical end of things, but the short video below illuminates the hopes that go with such inventions. It also shows that such otherwise trivial inventions have a grander purpose.
Regardless of the complexities involved, people will continue to struggle with the desire to literally get above it all, and will find beauty in the act of quiet flight. Let us hope that battery development proceeds more quickly than Mr. Duchek’s anticipated timeline.