Able to steer a helicopter just by the shear strength of human muscles is a dream that will be soon a reality! A team of Canadian students have managed to make a flight of more than one minute, at the height of more than 3 m. It may seem as a little achievement, but no one had ever succeeded before to achieve this goal.
The Igor Sikorsky award was established in 1980 and offered only $ 10,000 reward at that time. The award was meant as prize for a competition, created by the American Helicopter Society, with the goal to fly a helicopter only by human strength for one minute at the height of 3m. Because of the difficulty of the challenge and the fact that no team came close to the achieving the goal, the endowment award money increased to $ 250,000. The first successful flight to achieve this goal took place in a covered soccer stadium in Ontario on June 13, 2013. However, due to some verifications, the prize was officially awarded on July 11th, 2013. The aircraft was flying over a field bounded by a 10m by 10m square.
The helicopter, named Aérovélo, was designed by the students of the University of Toronto and is composed of a huge cross beam of carbon fiber on which 10 m diameter rotors are placed at each end. In the middle of the helicopter, there is a suspended cable structure on which pilot pedals to rotate the rotors. The invention weighs only 55 kg when empty. The pilot-athlete who piloted and was able to take off the 80 kg helicopter is Todds Reichert. He was chosen for his muscle strength that allowed him to take off the helicopter.
Before Aérovélo , there have been many attempts that ended in failure. The most serious competitors was a team of the University of Maryland who ran a flight of 65 seconds at height of 2.7m. In 2012, the team Aérovélo of the University of Toronto made its first successful flight. 18 months later, they managed to do better than the team of Maryland and got the record helicopter flight propelled only by muscle strength. To take off the Aérovélo to the height of 3.3 m, Tobbs Reichert had to develop a power of 1091 Watts. Only the best cycling sprinters are capable of producing an output of over 1,000 watts for a few seconds at the end of a race.
It is great to see that in this modern age of inventions, someone is strong enough to fly the helicopter with nothing but muscles. Do you think that one day we can fly these bikes helicopter?