Another human-powered heli

Oct 16, 2012 5 Comments by

There’s another contender for the $250,000 Sikorsky Prize for the first human-powered helicopter! Enter Atlas, from AeroVelo. This machine has successfully flown and seems to be giving the University of Maryland team’s Gamera II a run for the money. Gizmag’s James Holloway writes, “Fundamentally, Atlas is designed upon a very similar principle to Gamera II and its predecessor. They all consist of four twin-blade rotors connected to a lightweight frame, surrounding the pilot who is suspended on a bicycle-like mechanism that powers the vehicle from its center.

The team went through a taxing period of testing between August 21, when Atlas was assembled in its entirety for the first time, and September 4. The testing period was not without teething trouble and hiccups, including a crash on August 29 that damaged the aircraft. The team also realized that the rotor blades had very limited freedom of movement before bracing lines would be clipped, leading to many test flights being aborted at an early stage. The time made design changes to give the rotors more breathing space, while limiting their vertical movement.

NPR reports that AeroVelo’s Atlas team is a mere eight strong, and has the added frustration of having to disassemble and reassemble the Atlas during every day of testing, due to the limited availability of the indoor soccer field used for test flights.”

Stay tuned for more developments in this race for fame and fortune!



Debra Cleghorn

About the author

Model Airplane News Executive editor. About me: I’m a publishing professional who has a passion for aviation and RC, and I love creating issues, books and a website that help RC pilots to enjoy this sport even more. I admire scale aircraft and enjoy the convenience of flying smaller electrics.

5 Responses to “Another human-powered heli”

  1. Gordon Seifert says:

    Where’s the video? If there isn’t a video it didn’t happen is the phrase used often on RCGroups. I have seen the Gamera II reach about 8 to 10 feet in a video. This Atlas looks to me like it might just quickly disassemble itself.

  2. Steve says:

    Here’s a video of it’s 1st flight . It looks like it went about 8-10 inches off the ground for about 5 seconds.

    Is it just me, or are these things just so large that it makes the whole idea pointless? What’s the point of a human powered flying heli if actually flying it is impossible due to it’s size? Couldn’t these engineers achieve this with smaller props with some additional gearing? I’m sure these college kids are a hell of a lot smarter than I am, when it comes to this type of thing, so these are merely questions and not criticism.

  3. Andrew McDermott says:

    I just chuckled when I read the comment “are these things so large that it makes the whole idea pointless?” Do you recall the large clumsy machine that those bicycle mechanics from Ohio flew for a few seconds at Kitty Hawk?

  4. Mike Heis says:

    Actually Andrew if you ever go to the Wright Brothers First Flight Memorial in Kitty Hawk (about 70 miles from me BTW). You will get a totally different appreciation for what they flew and how short the filght was.

    The bird is actually rather small by todays standards, and the distance of the first flight is what a 5 yo could throw a ball

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