New Human-Powered Aircraft Challenge

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The goal is to fly a human-powered aircraft over a 26-mile course that includes an oval and two figure-eight patterns in less than an hour; history says Larry McNay's team might do it and his aircraft could be ready in a few weeks. McNay was part of the Gossamer Albatross team that successfully flew a pedal-powered aircraft across the English Channel in June of 1979. He was 16 at the time. He is now a Lockheed Martin engineer with his sights set on winning the 26-mile Kremer International Marathon Competition to be held this July in the United Kingdom. His team's design, the Wind Rose, has a 60-foot wingspan and is made almost exclusively of advanced composites. But the marathon competition isn't the team's only goal.

The Kremer Marathon Competition requires aircraft to fly a 26-mile circuit that includes two ovals and two figure eights in less than an hour. But McNay also hopes to win the Kremer Human-Powered Aircraft Competition for Sport. That competition requires that the aircraft be trailerable inside a weatherproof container not longer than about 26 feet. Official flights must take place over a triangular course and must begin with unloading of the aircraft. To win the competition, the aircraft must first be unloaded and assembled for flight within 30 minutes. Beyond that, the timing of the Kremer competitions matches well with the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Enthusiasts of human-powered flight hope that attention drawn by the Kremer competition could help their push to turn human-powered flight into an Olympic sport.