What is Human Powered Flight?

The Man Powered Aircraft Group of the Royal Aeronautical Society originated in 1959 when the members of the Man Powered Group of the College of Aeronautics at Cranfield were invited to become a group of the Society. Its title was changed from 'Man' to 'Human" in 1988 in recognition of the many successful flights by woman pilots. Without the generosity and enthusiastic support of the late Mr Henry Kremer, human powered flight would probably still be only a dream. By offering prizes for the various competitions which have been set, he has provided a focus for research and made possible the building of extraordinary aircraft. Over the years he has donated over £275,000 of his own money to encourage greater achievement in human powered flight.

Human Powered Flight - Towards a Practical Sport

For designers these machines offer a most exciting challenge. Ultra lightweight materials have revolutionised techniques of construction, producing aircraft with a wingspan of around 25 meters, and an all up weight of little over 30 kilograms. Where the aircraft of the 1970's were so flimsy that they could only be flown in virtually still air, the machines now being built can cope with light winds. We have reached the transitional period in human powered flight. The basic research has been done, and this next stage will lead to more practical aircraft, which can be built by a group of enthusiasts and flown as a sport. For the pilot, the human factors involved are unique, offering a challenge not found in any other branch of aviation. Control of a slow flying, lightweight aeroplane demands a high degree of skill. In addition the pilot must generate sufficient power to take off and stay airborne. As designs progress, so it has become less necessary for the pilot to be a highly trained athlete. Anyone is a potential HPA pilot. One of the ultimate aims of the Group is to promote human powered flight as an Olympic sport 

Events

The group organises a number of different events including an annual lecture.

Get in touch

If you specialise in this field, or wish to find our more, explore our additional resources below. To get involved with the activities of the Human Powered Flight Group please contact the Chairperson by contacting conferences@aerosociety.com. 

History

1933/5 Haessler & Villinger design MUFLI using external bracing for 5.5m wing. 1.5 prop with belt drive. Empty weight 34kg. Best flight 235m on 30.8.1935. Flights launched by tensioned cable, contained within nose. Later flights 427m on 17/11/1936 and 712m 4/7/1937 OVER 120 flights. 1935/7 Bossi & Bonomi enter Italian Govt Kilometre challenge with PEDELIANTE, lift braced 17.7m wing. Two props, approx 2m dia, chain drive. Empty weight approx 100kg. Best flight over 1000m from catapult launch to 9m 18/3/1937 World Record: Disputed achievement due to launch method. 1957 Perkins' RELUCTANT PHOENIX delta inflatable of 8.2m span, weight 17kg tested in Airship Sheds at Cardington with 97 ground effect flights. 1960/61 SUMPAC designed and built. First MPA to fly in UK, on 9/11/1961. Cantilever 24.4m wing 2.44m prop with chain drive. Empty weight 60kg. Best flight 650m. 1960/61 PUFFIN designed and built, 2nd MPA to fly in UK by one week (!) First flight 16/11/ 1961. Cantilever 25.6m wing. Empty weight 58kg. First to fly half mile distance (908m). Over 90 flights before damage caused rebuild. 1965/9 PUFFIN 2 tests. New wing 28.3, similar weights. First flight 27/8/1965. Many flights over half mile including climb to 5.2m. 1963 Roper WOODFORD (Essex) aircraft designed and constructed - later JUPITER with RAF 1964/5 SOUTHEND 2 man aircraft built, tested 19/7/65 structural failure in drive mechnism prevented success before team disbanded, some going to HPA 1965 TOUCAN started by Heartfordshire pedal aeronauts, cantilever 43.5m wing. Empty weight 66kg. First flight 62m on 23/12/1972. Best flight 700m 3/7/1973. 1966 LINNET I first of series started 1963 in Nihon University. Cantilever 22.3m wing. Empty weight 50.6kg, 2.7m prop. Flew first time 26/2/1966 43m. 1967 LINNET II, reduced to 44kg weight flew 91 m on 19/2/1967. 1969 SM-OX by Sata Maeda flew 30m, 22m cantilever wing, empty weight 58kg. 1970 LINNET III tested, best flight 31m. Span extended to 25.3m. Weight empty 49kg. Revised to LINNET IV, best flight 60m 26/3/1971. 1970 Wisley machine DUMBO assembled. First flight 18/9/1971. Cantilever rotatable wing panels 36.5m. Empty weight 80kg later renamed MERCURY at Cranwell. 1971 Woodford (Essex) machine completed as JUPITER 24.3m cantilever wing, empty weight 66kg. First flight Feb 1972. Best flights 1070m and 1239m on June 1972. 1971 WRIGHT aircraft, first to use GRP and CF plastics flew 200m in February 1972 21.6 cantilever wing, empty weight 41 kg. 1971 Remains of PUFFIN 2 used for LIVERPUFFIN now using Expanded Polystyrene for major areas. 19.5m span, empty weight 63 kg, first flight 3/72, 20 metres. 1972/3 New design EGRET, from Nihon University. Span 22.7m. Empty weight 57kg, first flight 154m on 28/2/1973. Revised EGRET 2 flew 154m on 30/10/73 and EGRET 3, 203m on 16/11/1974. 1973 M.I.T. BURD biplane built, 18.9m span rebuilt as BURD II. Destroyed on first take off.. 1976 First MPA flight in USA by OLYMPIAN 21/4/1976.23.5m. Empty weight 67 kg. 1974 Hurel AVIETTE, 40.2m parasol externally braced wire flew 1000m on unspecified date. 1974-6 DRAGONFLY constructed, cantilever 24.4m span, short flights only after initial ground run problems. 1974-80 NEWBURY MANFLIER started, unique 2 man, 2 nacelle concept 42m span, empty weight 76kg. Short flights achieved 1978-1980 up to 69 secs duration 1/1/1980. 1974 ICARUS low wing, ground effect aircraft made 2nd and 3rd flights in USA, team recruited to CONDOR PROJECT. First model CONDOR flew 40 secs. 26/12/1976 over 143m. 1976 STORK'A', new Nihon design flew 12/3/76 over 595m. 21 m span, 36kg, new structure and design techniques improved in STORK'B' for 2093m flight 24/11/ 1976. 1977 GOSSAMER CONDOR 2 achieved first figure 8 23/8/1977, 2172m. Externally braced 29.2m wing, 31.8kg empty weight. 1978 IBIS tested at Nihon University over 1200m on 11/3/1978,19.4m span, empty weight 38kg. 1979 GOSSAMER ALBATROSS tested over 1 hr 9mins on 25/4/1979 and flew England- France on 12/6/1979, flight duration 2hrs 49mm, distance 22 miles 453 yards. Span 29.2m, design weight 25kg. 1980 PHOENIX inflatable 33m span braced wing tested. Short flights 1980/81. 1981 MILAN built at Nihon University, best flight 590m 21/12/81, externally braced 25m wing. CF structure, empty weight 34kg, improved by weight reduction in MILAN 82 to 27.3kg flown first 16/10/1982 over 2600m, longest flight in Japan. 12th MPA in the Nihon University series over 20 years. 1983 HVS by Hutter-Villinger-Schule tested 12/3/1983 in 50 secs flight. Cantilever 16.6m span. CF structure, empty weight 50 kg, adjustable pitch prop, 400 r.p.m. pedal drive non-rotating. 1983 BIONIC BAT (GOSSAMER SWIFT) first to fly speed course under 3 mins. using stored energy 25/9/83. Wire braced 14.6m span. CF structure, empty weight 34.1 kg. Claim disallowed for technical reasons. 1983 MIT MONARCH wins 1st prize in the Kremer speed competition. May 11th 1984, Pilot Frank Scarabino 1984 BIONIC BAT wins 2nd prize in the Kremer speed competition. July 18th 1984 with a flight time of 163.28 secs. The pilot was Parker MacCready. 1984 MUSCULAIR 1 wins 3rd prize in the Kremer speed competition without using energy storage. August 21st 1984 with a time round the course of 151.28 secs The pilot was Holger Rochelt 1984 BIONIC BAT wins 4th prize in the Kremer speed competition. December 2nd 1984 with a flight time of 143.08 secs (airspeed 26.5 mph) The pilot was Bryan Allen 1984 The first human powered passenger flight. On October the 1st 1984 Holger Rochelt carries his sister Katrin in MUSCULAIR 1 1985 MUSCULAIR 2 wins 5th prize in the Kremer speed competition. October 2nd 1985 with a speed of 44.32 km/h. The pilot was Holger Rochelt 1987 MICHELOB LIGHT EAGLE. Lois McCallin flew 9.6 miles, 15.444 km in 37 minutes and 38 seconds over Rodgers dry lake setting womans distance and duration records. 1988 DAEDALUS flys from Heraklion airport on Crete to Santorini setting world distance and duration records. 116 km in 3 hours 54 mins 59 secs The pilot was Kanellos Kanellopoulos 1989 The first human powered helecopter flight on 10th December 1989. The California Polytechnic State University Da Vinci III flew for 7.1 secs and reached a height of 20 cm. (8 in) 2010 The first human powered ornithopter flight on the 22nd September 2010. On July 31st and August 2nd, 2010 the Snowbird succeeded in completing several sustained flights!! On the longest flight the altitude and airspeed were maintained for 19.3 seconds. Human-Powered Prizes and Awards Robert Graham Competition £500 annual prize for work by a student on a subject appropriate to human powered flight. Kremer International Competition £50,000 for the first to fly a figure of eight around two markers half a mile apart. Donated 1973, won August 23rd 1977 by Dr Paul MacCready Jr Kremer International Competition £10,000 for the first non-US citizen, to fly the figure-of-eight course. Donated 1979, won June 19th 1984 by Gunter Rochelt Kremer International Competition £100,000 for the first to fly from England to France Donated 1977, won June 12th 1979, Pilot Bryan Allen, entrant Dr Paul MacCready Jr Kremer International Competition for World Speed Records £100,000 to be awarded as £20,000 to the first to fly around a 1500 metre course in a time of less than three minutes and £5,000 to each subsequent entrant improving the speed by at least five percent. Donated 1983, 1st prize won May 11th 1984, Pilot Frank Scarabino, entrant John S. Langford

Kremer Competitions

UPDATE - 16/12/15 Following serious interest from a number of potential competitors it has been decided to keep the Kremer International Sporting Aircraft Competition prize of £100,000 open. The committee of the RAeS human powered flight group look forward to this very challenging prize being attempted and won. Anyone intending to enter the Kremer International Sporting Aircraft Competition is reminded that it is recommended that they advise the Organisers at the earliest opportunity as outlined by Rule 6.2) and 6.3) , to establish that the proposed entry is acceptable in respect of the attributes required of an HPAS. Thanks to the generosity of the late Mr Henry Kremer The Royal Aeronautical Society currently organises the following competitions: The Kremer International Marathon Competition Prize: £50,000 (Fifty Thousand Pounds Sterling) The course for the Kremer International Marathon Competition is around two turning points. The aircraft starts from rest flies two outer circuits, one figure of eight, then two more outer circuits, such that the distance including turns is thus approximately the distance of the Marathon course in athletic events. This distance must be flown in one hour or less. The aircraft must be in continuous flight, and must make a landing satisfactory to the observers. At certain points on each circuit there is a minimum height obligation. The entrant may select the location of the course, which must then be approved. * Download the rules as a PDF file *Download Kremer Marathon Rules Clarifications as a PDF file * For an Entry Form E-Mail us The Kremer International Sporting Aircraft Competition , ( see annoucement above ) Prize: £100,000 (One hundred thousand pounds Sterling) The purpose of this competition is to promote the production of an aircraft suited to athletic competition. In particular it is necessary to specify and design an aircraft able to operate in normal weather conditions, as encountered in the United Kingdom. The prize of £100,000 will be awarded to the first entrant successfully demonstrating a human powered aircraft in accordance with the rules of the competition. * Download the rules as a PDF file *Clarifications to Rules of Sporting Competition * For an Entry form E-Mail us The Robert Graham Competition £500 annual prize for work by a student on a subject appropriate to human powered flight. The purpose of the competition is to foster knowledge in the art and science of human powered flight. The competition is open to undergraduates and other students of engineering, technology, human physiology and other relevant disciplines at universities, polytechnics, colleges of further education and sixth form colleges in the United Kingdom. Any project entered must form an integral part of a course of studies. The work can take the form of experimental research or engineering design and must have a clear application to human powered flight. Each sponsoring college may approve one entry in each discipline per year. Schools Competition £1,000 annual prize for flight by a youth group. Open to any Youth Group in the UK, this competition was launched in 2006. Young people have always shown their ability to pilot. Now here is encouragement for them to be involved in the creation of the machine. The conditions are far less stringent than for any previous competition. A cash prize and a trophy will be awarded annually for the flight of longest duration that year. Two ground-handlers are allowed to assist in the take-off. It can be done. The precedent for this is the Aslam HPA built by students of Dr Keith Sherwin in Singapore. Upper age limit is 18. The RAeS HPFG currently includes Dr Bill Brooks, Professor John Wimpenny, Dave Barford, Dr Alex Forrester, Martyn Pressnell, John McIntyre and Chris Roper, all of whom have designed HPA. We are providing information and support to participating teams. HPA have been built with very modest equipment, and construction should be well within the scope of a school`s workshop. It is anticipated that flights could be performed on a typical school playing field, or similar open space. The rules also constrain that the plane must be deriggable suitable for transporting. Please download the Schools Information Pack and application form for entry and see the Clarifications to Rules Download Keith Sherwin's Aslam paper here GRANTS for promising projects designed to further the achievement of human powered flight. Applicants need to consider, decide on, and submit details of all aspects of the project. See the CONDITIONS GOVERNING GRANTS here For more information, contact the RAeS Conference & Events Department on +44 (0)20 7670 4345 or email conference@aerosociety.com Previous Man-Powered Prizes and Awards Kremer International Competition £50,000 for the first to fly a figure of eight around two markers half a mile apart. Donated 1973, won August 23rd 1977 by Dr Paul MacCready Jr Kremer International Competition £10,000 for the first non-US citizen, to fly the figure-of-eight course. Donated 1979, won June 19th 1984 by Gunter Rochelt Kremer International Competition £100,000 for the first to fly from England to France Donated 1977, won June 12th 1979, Pilot Bryan Allen, entrant Dr Paul MacCready Jr Kremer International Competition for World Speed Records £100,000 to be awarded as £20,000 to the first to fly around a 1500 metre course in a time of less than three minutes and £5,000 to each subsequent entrant improving the speed by at least five percent. Donated 1983, 1st prize won May 11th 1984, Pilot Frank Scarabino, entrant John S. Langford