Japan pedal power aims for human flight record

Dec 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: Measuring on ice: Researchers create 'smart' ice skating blade

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Solar plane ends first leg of intercontinental bid

May 25, 2012

The Swiss sun-powered aircraft Solar Impulse landed safely in Madrid early Friday at the end of the first leg of its attempt at an intercontinental flight without using a drop of fuel.

Recommended for you

When emotions control objects

18 hours ago

Dimming a light, immersive playing on a computer, and tracking yoga exercises in real time – sensors developed by SmartCardia use various vital signs to transmit data to a host of everyday objects.

Tailored 'activity coaching' by smartphone

Oct 17, 2014

Today's smartphone user can obtain a lot of data about his or her health, thanks to built-in or separate sensors. Researcher Harm op den Akker of the University of Twente (CTIT Institute) now takes this health ...

WASP has printer, will travel, to make houses

Oct 16, 2014

At Maker Faire Rome, an Italian 3D printer company is demonstrating a tall, portable machine that will bring 3D-printed dwellings to impoverished countries. WASP has been exploring low-cost solutions to ...

User comments : 0