Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Human Powered flight
The preceding video is the result of a project done by the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT. Several champion bicyclists took carefully designed ultralights and flew them for many hours. These ultralight airplanes were powered by human-driven propellers that moved in the same way that wheels move when humans pedal bicycles.
Ironically, the Wright brothers were bicycle shop owners before they constructed the Airplane. I would not be surprised that this idea did not cross their minds at some point. Before inventing the first airplane in 1903, they begin improving the designs of gliders made by Otto Lilienthal. I am sure that they pondered a "flying bicycle" at some point. But materials back then were much heavier and less durable.
The 21st century has seen many years of ultralight pilots and aircraft builders. If aviation and transportation is to become more green as people like, then this has a lot of potential that could be expanded with time and research.