Late last year, I mentioned the University of Toronto Human Powered Vehicle Team’s Vortex HPV, which they raced at the World Human Powered Speed Championships in Battle Mountain, Nevada. This year, the team from Toronto has a more ambitious project- the world’s first successful human powered helicopter. Team member Victor Ragusila explains that they are “one of the three teams fighting for the Sikorski prize, and will try to fly in August 2012.” The Sikorsky Prize, named for Igor Sikorsky, promises $250,000 to the first person or group to fly a human powered helicopter. According to Wikipedia, “the requirements to win the Sikorsky prize include a flight duration of 60 seconds and reaching an altitude of 3 meters (9.8 ft) while remaining in a 10 meter (32.8 ft) square.”
The AeroVelo team recently reached their goal on Kickstarter, where you can see an interesting video about the project. Their design for the attempt is a quad-rotor configuration which “features four independent rotors connected with a large truss structure”. It is similar to the Yuri I, which flew for 19 seconds to set a new world record in 1994, but the AeroVelo is creating a design that is as light as possible while optimized for aerodynamics. You can also a video and several pictures of the Human-Powered Ornithopter on the Aerovelo website. The flight attempt is only a couple of months away, so I am looking forward to following the project to see if they are successful. I am certainly pulling for them to be the first team to capture the Sikorsky Prize.