Japan pedal power aims for human flight record

December 10, 2012

A team in Japan are hoping pedal-power will beat the world record for a human-propelled plane—in a flying machine made from polystyrene, they said Monday.

Team Aeroscepsy say a professional mountain biker will pilot their "Gokurakutombo", which has a wingspan half that of a jumbo jet, in a voyage they hope will clock up 120 kilometres (75 miles).

"We developed a new plane from scratch to break the ," said Shinsuke Yano, who heads a collection of 10 engineers and enthusiasts.

The Gokurakutombo—a phrase that means "Happy-Go-Lucky" and is also a pun on "happy dragonfly"—has wings that measure 35.6 metres (117 feet) tip to tip, but weighs just 37 kilogrammes (81 pounds) thanks to its polystyrene foam and carbon fibre construction.

Yano said the world record for human-powered flight was set by a US university in 1988 with its pedal-driven Daedalus, a contraption named after the father of Icarus in Greek mythology.

The Daedalus plopped into the Mediterranean just a few metres short of the Greek island of Santorini after flying 115 kilometres from Crete.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
Aeroscepsy TestFlight 2010/05/16

Team Aeroscepsy, who all work at Japanese motorcycle-maker Yamaha, hope to launch their flight from a field at the foot of , and head for the Pacific Ocean next spring.

Their contraption can take advantage of thermal air currents but does not need them to launch and fly.

"Because it's a long over four hours and you need to keep pedalling with power that is required for climbing uphill constantly, you need a professional cyclist," Yano said.

"We are pretty confident about reaching a new record. We know from past tests that our aircraft has that capacity. The most difficult part is reading . Light wind can upset the fragile plane."

Explore further: Swiss solar aircraft makes first international flight (Update 2)

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Interactive tool lifts veil on the cost of nuclear energy

August 24, 2015

Despite the ever-changing landscape of energy economics, subject to the influence of new technologies and geopolitics, a new tool promises to root discussions about the cost of nuclear energy in hard evidence rather than ...

Smart home heating and cooling

August 28, 2015

Smart temperature-control devices—such as thermostats that learn and adjust to pre-programmed temperatures—are poised to increase comfort and save energy in homes.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.