Icarus Cup Achieves New Records

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Doing more with much less, British pilots at this year’s Icarus Cup follow in Paul MacCready’s aerial path, staging a highly successful weeklong demonstration of human-powered flight.  Airplanes that fly on about a quarter-kilowatt for as long as the human battery can operate the pedals are not new, and significant records have been achieved over the years. The British have long been involved, beginning with the 590 meters flight by Derek Piggott on November 9, 1961 in SUMPAC (Southampton University’s Man Powered Aircraft – note the sexist terminology of the day).  This was considered the first authenticated takeoff and flight by a human powerplant.  He made 40 flights before suffering a crash that damaged a wing. To help foster interest …

2015 British Human Powered Flying Club Rally

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Human-powered flight is about as green as it gets, although the pilot/powerplant does emit CO2 and some methane during the exercise.  A human pilot can put out only about 0.25 to 0.5 horsepower for reasonable periods, with the record holders like Brian Allen flying The 70-lb Gossamer Albatross in its 26-mile cross-channel flight in 2 hours, 49 minutes,.and Olympic cyclist Kanellos Kanellopoulos of Greece flying 71.5 miles between Crete and Santorini in 3 hours, 54 minutes on April 23, 1988.  The flight holds the official FAI world records for total distance, straight-line distance, and duration for human-powered aircraft. The British Human Powered Flying Club holds a gathering of the hopeful every year, this year at Lasham Airfield, between London and Winchester.  Depending on how one …

A New British Club for HPAs

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

For the last six decades, the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) has overseen records keeping for human powered aircraft (HPAs).  They report, “The Man Powered Aircraft Group of the Royal Aeronautical Society originated in 1959 when the members of the Man Powered Group of the College of Aeronautics at Cranfield were invited to become a group of the Society. Its title was changed from ‘Man’ to ‘Human’ in 1988 in recognition of the many successful flights by woman pilots.” Mr. Henry Kremer turned the wistful dreams of many to serious competition by donating over 275,000 pounds sterling ($440,000 at today’s exchange rates) in prize money for achievements such as flying a figure eight around to markers a half-mile apart and starting …

The Icarus Cup – As Green As It Gets

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

Dreams of human-powered flight go back at least to the myth of Daedelus and Icarus attempting to flee their Cretan prison by fashioning wings from feathers and wax.  Your editor doesn’t know why we continue to name festivals of flight for Icarus, since he was the young, foolish soul who flew too close to the sun and melted his wings.  His older, wiser father heeded his own advice and made the trip safely because he was not so bold.  Maybe we use Icarus’ name out of respect for his sacrifice. In the spirit of the two mythical aviators and Leonardo daVinci, Italian designer Enea Bossi and builder Vittorio Bonomi oversaw several bungee-launched flights in 1936 with their spruce, balsa wood …

Lifting Yourself by a Disappearing Thread

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

The University of Maryland announced the successful 11.4 second flight of an American human-powered helicopter with a female pilot – now the National record holder and successor to the first female flight on such a machine – 17 years ago. In 1994, your editor attended a human-powered aircraft symposium in Seattle at the Boeing Museum of Flight. Paul MacCready signed my copy of Gossamer Odyssey and I was official observer (for Chris Roper of the Royal Aeronautical Society) of the first female-powered helicopter flight.  Ward Griffiths, a svelte young thing from a local bike shop, cranked the very similar (to Gamera) thing into the air for 8.6 seconds – a first and a female record at that time.  A Japanese gentleman had …