January 21, 2004 In 1980, the American Helicopter Society issued a reward of US$20,000 for the first group to build a human powered helicopter. The conditions of flight were to hover in a 10 metre square zone for a minute and reach a height of three metres. Since then around 20 unsuccessful attempts have been made on the feat and none have come close, though with the most recent attempt on August 10, 2004 from the University of British Columbia having failed also.
The University of British Columbia "Thunderbird" is based around two rotors rotating in opposite directions. The upper rotor is actually longer than the wing span on a 737 and plans called for the upper rotor to rotate at 3.5 rpm and the lower rotor at 6 rpm, giving a lift of 137 kilos.
That's the amount of weight that the pilot and helicopter must weigh less than for the Thunderbird to get off the ground and although the team was hopeful based on its calculations, it didn't happen first time out.
Let's hope the repairs are successful.
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