8 HUMAN POWERED AIRCRAFT & Pedal Powered Flying Machines

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– [Narrator] Human powered flight is about as green as it gets. Add that to dreams of reaching the heavens and you get the top eight
human powered aircraft. Number eight, the Snowbird. We as humans have spent
centuries trying to fly before finally developing
the technologies needed to soar with the birds. And in this time there
was a plethora of gadgets, devices and machines that have been both failures and successes. The Snowbird is the first
human powered ornithopter, an aircraft that flies
by flapping its wings, to fly continuously. The development team was
comprised of students and faculty from the University of Toronto in Canada, Poitiers University in France, and Delft Technical
Institute in the Netherlands. Weighing just 94 pounds
the Snowbird has a wingspan of 105 feet which is comparable
to that of a Boeing 737. Its structure comes apart in four pieces and is made of carbon fiber tubes, foam, balsa wood and base wood. It took its maiden flight at
the Great Lakes Gliding Club in Tottenham, north of Toronto, Canada. It maintained both altitude
and airspeed for 19.3 seconds, covering a distance of 475 feet at an average speed of
15.9 miles per hour. Although this aircraft is not a practical method of transport it can act as an inspiration to others to use the strength of their body and the creativity of their
mind to follow their dreams and think twice about what’s possible. Number seven, the Aerosail. Adventurer and visionary. Both of these can be attributed to Frenchman Stephane Rousson, the designer and pilot of
this entry on our list. Surprisingly his inspiration
and love of aviation came from having watched
the movie E.T. as a child. This motorless zeppelin,
connected to a hydrofoil and filled with helium
gas, is 52 foot long with a diameter of 16 feet. It is designed to glide
100 feet in the air with the pilot suspended underneath in a semi reclining position, steering it with two tilting
rotors on either side, and powering the two
propellers with his feet using a bicycle-like contraption. Rousson has attempted multiple times to cross the English
Channel in the Aerosail, but as of yet has not succeeded. In 2014 he attempted to
cross the Mediterranean Sea but it too was thwarted by the weather. Regardless, we consider this
one to be a prime example of pure adventure and innovation. Number six, the Daedalus 88. Named after the mythological
inventor of aviation and father of legendary ill-fated Icarus, the Daedalus aircraft were
the culmination of work on human flight at MIT. Dreamed up in 1985 by MIT
faculty and student engineers, the Daedalus 88 featured
a technical design that required aeronautical
and design skills above and beyond the ordinary. It was constructed with a
framework of carbon fiber tubes, airfoil shaped for the
wing and tail elements, was maintained with a thin
polystyrene foam leading edge, polystyrene ribs, and
a Kevlar trailing edge. Wing skin was Mylar plastic of
approximately .3mm thickness. The bottom portion of the fuselage and majority of the pilot’s seat were made of Kevlar as well. In total it still only weighed 69 pounds. The Daedalus 88 holds the
official FAI world records for total distance, straight line distance and duration for human powered aircraft set during a 71.5 mile flight lasting just short of four hours. Unfortunately the craft
crashed during the landing. Although the pilot was not hurt the plane itself was
broken into several pieces. The decision was made to not continue the Daedalus aircraft
line leaving us to wonder what could have been
achieved with another one. Number five, the Dash PA. Let me start off this one by pointing out that the name is an acronym for dead simple human powered airplane. The idea behind the Dash
was just as straightforward. To take as efficient an
approach as possible to building a human powered airplane
that flies successfully. It started as a for
fun, after hours project by aviation enthusiast Alec Proudfoot that has blossomed into an effort involving hundreds of volunteers
and over 12,000 hours. The original design goals
called for a weight of 80 pounds and a wingspan of 109.3 feet. It was estimated that it would
fly at 14 miles per hour. Like any design there are
modifications made during testing but at the core of it all
the aircraft is essentially a super light recumbent
bicycle with wings. The project’s first flight
was in December 2015 at Half Moon Bay Airport in California. The aircraft flew for 764 feet while being piloted by Proudfoot. Although it never got
higher than five feet off of the ground it was still
considered a major success. On one of the last flights the aircraft was damaged extensively. It was rebuilt and flown again but like any project of this magnitude it remains a daunting task. Number four, the Ruppert Archeopteryx. The word archeopteryx
literally means first wing, so it was only fitting
that it was named after the feathered dinosaur that
evolved into modern day birds. The aircraft is a Swiss
high wing pod and boom single seat microlift glider. It was conceived as a foot
launchable microlift sail plane, with goals of a light empty
weight, low stall speed, good maneuverability and
good high speed performance. The controls are conventional
with a stick for ailerons and elevator and rudder pedals. The aircraft uses flaps
for glide path control which function as air brakes, a ballistic parachute was
also added for emergencies. The aircraft can be rigged
for flight in 15 minutes with minimal effort by only one person. Originally it was launched
by foot, bungee, aerotow, autotow, and a winch launch. It has been landed on its
wheel and foot landed as well. Electric propulsion was added in mid 2014 to allow for self launching and a single charge run time
of 11 minutes at full power. As of February 2017
there have been 18 sold so if you’re interested give them a shout. And who knows? Maybe this will inspire
you to go even further and create your own
human powered aircraft. Number three, the Gokuraku Tombo. A group of motorcycle designers have put their experience
to the test in a new field by developing an ultralight airplane that’s powered only by
a simple set of pedals. Yamaha’s Team Aeroscepsy,
comprised of 14 engineers and enthusiasts with an
average age of 35 years old developed a new plane from scratch just to break the world record
for human powered flight. The Gokuraku Tombo, a phrase
that means happy go lucky, has a wingspan that
measures 117 feet tip to tip and a propeller diameter of almost 9 feet. It weights a mere 81 pounds
due to it’s super light polystyrene foam and
carbon fiber construction. The aircraft can take advantage
of thermo air currents but doesn’t need them to launch and fly. Spokesperson Shinsuke Yano
said the team is planning on having a professional
mountain biker act as the engine for the Gokuraku Tombo aircraft because you need to
keep pedaling with power that is required for
climbing uphill constantly. Considering that all the assembly work and test flights for the
aircraft are done strictly on private time outside
normal work hours at Yamaha, you have to hope that this team has nothing but success
in their endeavors. Number two, the Gossamer Albatross. The Gossamer Albatross
was designed and built by a team led by Paul B. MacCready, a noted American aeronautics
engineer, designer and world soaring champion. The aircraft is a canard configuration which uses a large horizontal
stabilizer forward of the wing and is powered using pedals to drive a large two bladed propeller. It was constructed using
a carbon fiber frame with the ribs of the wings
made with expanded polystyrene. The entire structure was
then wrapped in a thin, transparent Mylar film. This gave the aircraft
an empty mass weight of only 71 pounds. To maintain the craft in the air it was designed with
very long tapering wings, like those of a glider,
allowing the flight to be undertaken with a minimum of power. On June 12, 1979 the Gossamer
Albatross became the first human powered aircraft to fly
across the English Channel. The flight lasted two hours and 49 minutes and covered 22.5 miles
between England and France. For this accomplishment
the Albatross team won their second Kremer Prize
for human powered aircraft. MacCready’s team ended up
building two Albatrosses. The backup plane was
jointly tested as part of the NASA Langley Dryden
Flight Research program and was also flown inside
the Houston Astrodome. This, by the way, was the first ever controlled indoor flight by
a human powered aircraft. Number one, the Jinker Flapping Wing. The Jinker, an acronym for jump induced kinetic energy rebounder,
was created by Niko Pietrek. It was inspired by birds and
experiments with zeppelins, among other things. The invention is a light,
portable flight apparatus with a fuselage, a flexible frame, and downwards curved fixed wings. The Jinker is started
from an elevated place like a ramp or a hill. The pilot runs toward the wind until the ornithopter is
carried by the airflow. He then jumps from behind onto the frame and he starts to glide first. After that the pilot initiates
the flapping of the wings by gently jumping on the plane
and slowly and rhythmically increasing the body
acceleration and frequency. The wingspans will range from
29 and a half feet to 49 feet. The aircraft will have an estimated weight between 44 and 66 pounds. It’s anticipated that the maximum speed will be anywhere from
42 to 44 miles per hour. After several years of continuous work the current Jinker wing
design is now built and ready to be tested and
taken to flight trials. Pietrek currently has the
Jinker featured on Kickstarter and is seeking funding for his prototype.

 

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