It took centuries of research and a $250,000 prize, but a legendary dare has finally taken to the skies.
On Thursday, AeroVelo, a team of University of Toronto alumni, was recognized as winners of the Sikorsky Prize, a 33-year-old competition to invent and fly the first ever functional human-powered helicopter. We’ve shown you high-flyers like Yves “Jetman” Rossy, the Soul Flyers, and the flying helicopter bike, but none ran on raw, human-powered flight.
The long unclaimed prize was awarded for a Jun. 13 flight piloted by Todd Reichert at an indoor soccer stadium in Vaughan, Canada. It was a flight that saw Reichert furiously pedal the AeroVelo Atlas, a massive multi-rotor steampunk contraption, off the turf and into the air where it hovered for 64 seconds at an altitude of about 10 ft. Critical to the historic flight: the Atlas didn’t drift. The Sikorsky Prize stipulates that a winning chopper must stay within the footprint of a 10 meter square. You can watch the historic flight in the video above, and see Reichert and Cameron Roberts’ triumph in this fat check photo tweeted after the team won the award. Not bad for a project that started modestly enough on Kickstarter just over a year ago.
What’s next for the team? Refining the machine and finding new ways to prove that dreaming big and building can solve real life problems and inspire others to do the same.
“We would like the public to understand that with innovative engineering and creative design we can find sustainable and environmentally conscious solutions to many of the technological challenges facing our generation,” the team writes at the AeroVelo website.
As for AHS International, the group behind the Sikorsky Prize, they say they’ll announce a new big prize soon. Check the human-powered helicopter off the list of epic inventions we’ve always dreamed of.