Leonardo Da Vinci's dream realised: Canadian inventors achieve world’s first man-powered helicopter flight
Achieving Da Vinci’s dream bags team from Toronto victory in international competition and $250,000 prize fund
It is one of Leonardo Da Vinci’s most famous inventions – that was never thought possible.
But half a millennium after the Italian genius sketched the first plan for a man-powered helicopter, his dream has finally become a reality.
A team of engineers in Canada has completed the first successful flight of a helicopter using nothing but human brawn, and in doing so claimed a $250,000 prize fund.
The aircraft uses spools of string, drawn in by a pilot pumping the pedals of an otherwise fairly ordinary bicycle, to turn four massive – but very light – rotors.
With their winning design and first flight, Todd Reichert and his team have met the requirements of a 33-year-old competition. As a small team of University of Toronto alumni, students and volunteers, they were locked in a race to the finish line with a much larger team from the University of Maryland.
And the Canadian competitors, calling themselves AeroVelo, were on Thursday officially declared winners of the AHS Igor I. Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Competition.
The winning helicopter is hand-built largely from carbon fibre, and weighs a tiny 54 kilograms (120 lbs) while spanning almost 47 metres (154 feet) across.
And Reichart told the Canadian press it was an “incredible feeling” to fly it. “It's like you're biking along the street and someone came and just picked up your bike, and now you're floating,” he said.
“At the same time you don't really have the time to appreciate that, because of everything that's going on. As you spin your legs, you're spinning the rotors. It's very much an exercise in mental and physical control, at the same time as an all-out physical effort.
”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.”
Matthew Tarascio, chief engineer at Sikorsky Innovations, which contributed the quarter of a million dollar prize money to the competition, said: “We inspire, by doing this, that next generation of people that will go out into the industry and create new and wonderful machines.”
”I think there's a fascination with what humans can do and pushing the limits. This is really the competition that allowed humans to show that they could hover. That's Da Vinci's dream... and AeroVelo, they did it all right, and they put it all together.“
- 1 'Kidnapped boy may have been abused and murdered by VIP paedophile ring,' say police
- 3 Girl, 7, gets Tesco to remove 'stupid' sign suggesting superheroes are 'for boys'
- 4 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
Black Friday 2014: Opening times for Asda, John Lewis, GAME, PC World and Argos
Miss Honduras Maria Jose Alvarado's stylist Luis Alfredo Garcia is found stabbed to death
Dr Lam Hoe Yeoh: Voyeur doctor jailed for eight years after using network of hidden cameras to film patients, colleagues and friends on the toilet
'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Exclusive: UK approved £7m Israeli arms sales in six months before Gaza conflict
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join one of the UK's...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has arisen in a Winche...
£300 - £400 per day: Argyll Scott International: I am currently recruiting on ...
£16000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Field Based Sales Surveyor is...