Aviation has often been criticized as one of the most pollution-intensive forms of transportation. This criticism has been the driving force behind the development of electric and solar-powered prototype aircrafts, which aim to take on the skies without emitting a single ounce of carbon dioxide. While electric aircrafts might seem to be the future of aviation, there are a few inventors and research groups who believe aviation can be just as green as bicycling. These inventors have proven that aircrafts can fly even without those massive engines, while depending on the power in the pilot’s legs. Here are some of the most amazing pedal powered aircrafts designed in the recent times.
Developers: The Korean Air Force Academy
The Sky Runner is a 40kg airplane with a wingspan of 30 meters and is powered entirely by human energy to get off the ground. During the initial tests, the Sky Runner was able to remain in the air for up to 150 meters by consuming the green energy of the pilot. The aircraft requires a pilot to produce about 0.3hp to stay in the air for up a 2km long flight.
Developer: Jesse van Kuijk
Hailing from the Dutch town of Budel, the teenaged developer spent three years chasing his dream to build a functional pedal powered aircraft. The dream realized in the form of a lightweight aircraft made using Balsa wood, polyurethane and a rip-resistant foil. With a wingspan of 26-meters, the plane lifted a few meters off the ground, using a pedal-powered propeller. The plane flew for a few meters, after which the bicycle chain, which connected the pedals to the propeller, snapped.
Developers: University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies
The Snowbird is a unique human powered aircraft that comes with flapping wings. Weighing just 94lbs, the Snowbird, has a wingspan comparable to that of a Boeing 737. During tests, the flapping winged aircraft sustained airspeed and altitude for 19.3 seconds, while covering a distance of 145 meters.
Developers: Microsoft’s employees
The Windows Project Phoenix, was a glider developed for the Red Bull-sponsored Flugtag competition in California. The machine could carry 450 pounds of weight and was built at the cost of $1000. Featuring lightweight wings, old windsurf masts covered with carbon fiber, and recycled plastic bottles, the aircraft was designed to break the Flugtag’s distance record of 207 feet.
One name that seems synonymous with anything that flies, even beyond the boundaries of the earth, is NASA. As part of the Daedalus project, the space agency’s Light Eagle, a human powered aircraft, managed to set world records for three categories, including the straight distance and the world record for the female division in human-powered vehicles.
Developers: University of Maryland’s Department of Aerospace Engineering
The successor of the developing team’s Gamera, is the Gamera II – a pedal-powered helicopter. The Gamera II weights about 70 pounds and aims to stay in the air for about 60 seconds at an altitude of 3 meters.