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Human Powered Flight


June 4, 2004

Image Gallery (3 images)

It's a dream shared by anyone who has ridden a bicycle up a steep hill - human powered flight. NASA achieved this feat as part of the Daedalus project over a decade ago with the Light Eagle and Daedalus aircraft flying record breaking distances of 59km and 199km respectively. Designed and constructed by a group of students, professors, and alumni of the MIT, the goal was aircraft fly 115km (the distance that Daedalus is said to have flown when he escaped from King Minos on wings made from wax and feathers) and provide research data for the design and manufacture other high-altitude, long endurance aircraft.

The Light Eagle, pictured above in flight over Rogers Dry Lake at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center in California, was the prototype aircraft which set a closed course distance record of 59km and also set the straight distance, the distance around a closed circuit, and the duration world records for the female division in human powered vehicles.Two further aircraft were built during the program.

The Daedalus 87 aircraft crashed on Rogers Dry Lakebed in 1988 but its replacement, Daedalus 88, was the ship that flew the 199km from the Iraklion Air Force Base on Crete in the Mediterranean Sea to the island of Santorini in 3 hours, 54 minutes, setting a new record in distance and endurance for a human powered aircraft.The first human powered flight to meet test criteria set by the Wright Brothers for powered craft was achieved by Paul MacCready in 1977.

McReady also made the first flight across the English Channel in his craft the Gossamer Albatross and has subsequently had one of the most stellar and diverse careers possible, being named "Engineer of the Century."

MacCready is widely regarded as one of the World's leading thinkers and his views on sustainable development make fascinating reading and listening. he will be the subject of an upcoming (April 2005) feature in Gizmag and will be one of the speakers at the International Conference on Thinking.

Not just a series of lectures or talks, the 12th International Conference on Thinking (ICOT) will offer participants the chance to learn, reflect, discuss and be actively involved in thinking through new possibilities for the future. The conference will be held in Melbourne, Australia from July 4-8, 2005. ICOT brings some of the most brilliant minds from all parts of the planet to discuss a range of topics and issues under the umbrella of this year's theme; "Celebrate the Past - Window to the Future"

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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