In 1980 the American Helicopter Society (AHS) laid down a challenge: create a human-powered helicopter that can stay at least 10 feet in the air for at least 60 seconds within a 30 x 30 foot space. 33 years later the $250,000 prize has finally been claimed by a team named AeroVelo and their absolutely massive four-rotor helicopter called Atlas. The unbelievable video below is a must watch.
The sheer size and fragility of this flying machine is hard to believe. Weighing just 124.4 pounds and measuring 162 feet wide, the helicopter suspended hard-working canadian pilot/cyclist Todd Reichert in its web-like center and hovered for 64.11 seconds – a new world record in itself. Many attempts have been made at the prize over the years, often ending in fairly slow-motion crashes and a badly damaged craft (see one below). In this case the team opted for flying inside a large building, away from unpredictable weather and wind gusts. Reichert said:
“This isn’t something that you’re going to commute to work in any time soon, but it’s an exercise in really pushing the limits on what’s physically possible, and what you can do with lightweight materials and really creative design. Winning this competition really is a catalyst to keep doing the things we love. Our goal is to take on projects that really inspire people to follow big dreams.”
You can learn more about AeroVelo, here.
This is what happens when things don’t go well:
The team behind the project: