Friday, March 10, 2006

human powered aircraft

I've always been fascinated by the idea of human powered aircraft, an airplane that you pedal like a bicycle. I have this crazy idea that one day we'll see a California version of the Tour de France, with brightly colored flying machines in a multi-day race from Sausalito (just north of San Francisco) down to San Diego, with people on the ground cheering them on as they pass.

Well, the state of the art's not quite there yet. Human powered aircraft exist, but they're still pretty delicate and cantankerous. There's some information available on the web, though. You can find the Royal Society for Human Powered Flight here. There's an extensive Japanese site here. I don't understand most of it, but Coppertop tells me their Birdman Rally is a product of a local TV station. In the U.S., there's the Raven project, which doesn't seem to have been updated since 2001. And finally, there's the International Human Powered Vehicle Association. So the idea's still alive, but at the moment that's all it is. Maybe someday...

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