Aviation Innovator Paul MacCready Remembered

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Hundreds of friends and relatives of Paul MacCready gathered last Saturday at the California Institute of Technology, in Pasadena, for a memorial to the inventor, who died last month at age 81. MacCready, a CalTech graduate, founded AeroVironment Inc. and was an innovator in human-powered and solar-powered flight. He designed the "Gossamer Condor," the first successful human-powered airplane, which now hangs in the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. A later version of the aircraft flew 22 miles across the English Channel. In recent years, AeroVironment developed high-altitude, solar-powered autonomous aircraft.

In 2001, the 247-foot wingspan Helios reached 96,863 feet, over two miles higher than any airplane had ever sustained level flight. The aircraft could theoretically fly in the thin atmosphere of Mars.