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July 12, 2013
By Benét J. Wilson
Toronto-based AeroVelo, Inc. has won the American Helicopter Society (AHS) International’s Igor I. Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Competition, which was established in 1980. The AHS International Human Powered Helicopter Competition committee thoroughly reviewed the design, data, and flight testing of AeroVelo’s Atlas human-powered helicopter, which flew on June 13.
The committee has verified that the Atlas flight met all of the requirements to win the competition and a $250,000 prize. Those requirements included that the aircraft use only human power to fly for at least 60 seconds, reach an altitude of at least 9.8 feet and remain hovering over a 32.8 foot by 32.8 foot area.
AeroVelo’s Dr. Todd Reichert piloted and pedaled the Atlas on the June 13 flight, flown inside the Soccer Centre in Vaughan, Ontario. The Atlas is larger than any operational helicopter ever constructed, based on its overall width of 190 feet. It only weighs 115 pounds and has four 67-foot diameter rotors powered by a pilot pedaling a Cervelo carbon-fiber bicycle. The Atlas project began in January 2012 and made its first flight in August of the same year.
Other competitors were the University of Maryland -College Park with its Gamera II helicopter and California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo with its Upturn II aircraft.
“The AHS Sikorsky Prize challenged the technical community to harness teamwork, technical skills and cutting edge technologies to meet requirements that were on the ragged edge of feasibility,” said AHS International Executive Director Mike Hirschberg. “It took AeroVelo’s fresh ideas, daring engineering approach and relentless pursuit of innovation—coupled with more than three decades of advances in structures, composites, computer-aided design and aeromechanical theory—to succeed in achieving what many in vertical flight considered impossible. We congratulate the Atlas team on its incredible success.”
AOPA eNewsletter and Social Media Editor Benét J. Wilson joined AOPA in 2011. She is working on her private pilot certificate.
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