Human-powered helicopter wins $250,000 prize

A team from Canada has successfully won the long-standing Sikorsky Prize for the controlled flight of a human-powered helicopter.

The Atlas was built by Cameron Robertson and Todd Reichert, aeronautical engineers from the University of Toronto. It features four enormous independent rotors powered by a single pilot pedalling a bicycle-like wheel.

The record-breaking flight took place on 13 June, with Reichert at the controls. The aircraft stayed aloft for 64.11 seconds and reached a height of nearly 11 feet. The award was officially announced by the American Helicopter Society earlier this week.

The Sikorsky Prize calls for a human-powered helicopter to be kept hovering at height of at least 9.8 feet, within a 32.8 by 32.8 foot square, for at least sixty seconds.

Despite numerous attempts, the challenge – which is worth $250,000 – has not been completed since it was established in 1980.

In a post on AeroVelo – the company co-founded by the duo – Robertson wrote:

‘We’re very excited for the world to learn about this exciting milestone in aviation history. At AeroVelo we hope to inspire people to take on great challenges and accomplish the impossible. We would like the public to understand that with innovative engineering and creative design we can find sustainable and environmentally conscious solutions to many of the technological challenges facing our generation.’

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