Daedalus revisited


A team of more than 150 professionals and students, based in Seattle, hopes to break the records set by MIT's human-powered aircraft, the Daedalus, eight years ago.

By late 1977, the challengers plan to send their 75-pound aircraft, called The Raven, on a 100-mile, five-hour flight over Puget Sound from Boundary Bay in British Columbia to the Seattle waterfront.

The current world's record for human-powered flight, set by Kanellos Kanellopoulos in the Daedalus in 1988, was a flight over the Aegean Sea of 71.52 miles in 3 hours, 54 minutes from Crete to the island of Santorini.

The first flight of The Raven, is scheduled for Boeing Field in Seattle in August, according to the Seattle Times. Soon after the challengers will begin a national search for potential pilots.

As did the Daedalus, plans call for The Raven to do flight testing starting in December in California's Mojave Desert, where the air is more stable.

During the tests, there will be attempts to break the record now held by Lois McCallin for female flight in a human-powered aircraft. In 1987 she flew the Michelob Light Eagle, forerunner to the Daedalus, at Edwards Air Force Base in California for 4.2 miles in 37 minutes, 38 seconds.

The $300,000 project-developed under the Puget Sound Industry and Undergraduate Student Research Program, in cooperation with the Museum of Flight in Seattle-has brought together a number of businesses with more than 20 students from 11 schools and universities.

"This is a way for students to get hands-on experience," said Paul Illian, the project's chief engineer and a Boeing Aircraft flight-test engineer. He told the Times he's been dreaming of, and designing, such an aircraft for more than eight years, adapting new technology developed by the aerospace industry.

Dr. Mark Drela, associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics and faculty advisor for the team that created Daedalus, said Mr. Illian has been in touch with him on several occasions seeking information, which Professor Drela has gladly supplied.

Asked what he thought of The Raven's chances, Dr. Drela replied, "I'm not holding my breath." But he added that he didn't know all that much about the project, saying, "We'll just have to see."


Topics: Aeronautical and astronautical engineering

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