Tag Archives: Helicopter

Sunday Skillz: Human-Powered Helicopter

Human-powered flight has been a dream for mankind as long as there have been minds capable of looking up and watching with envy as the birds prowled our skies.

I dare any of you dudes to tell me truly that you have never dreamed about flying, on your own, just the wind and your body. You can’t. It’s an almost universal (to humanity at least) dream of freedom.

Witness wingsuits, hang gliding and parachuting. Those, however, are all variations on slowing your fall so you don’t squash when you meet the ground. It’s not true human-powered flight.

This, however, is.

How awesome is that? Let’s let a story from Popular Mechanics do the talking for a bit.

A quixotic Kickstarter-funded project has won the Sikorsky Prize, one of the most elusive goals in aviation, by keeping a human powered helicopter aloft for more than a minute. Aerovelo, an aeronautical engineering startup founded by Canadians Todd Reichert and Cameron Robertson, announced this morning that the Federation d’Aviation Intenationale (FAI)—the governing body of international aeronautical prizes—has certified a flight that Reichert piloted on June 13 as having met the qualifications for the $250,000 prize. 

The rules of the American Helicopter Society Igor I. Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Challenge, established in 1980, specify that the craft must fly for 60 seconds, must rise to an altitude of at least 3 meters (about 10 feet), and must remain within a horizontal area no bigger than 10 meters by 10 meters (33 feet by 33 feet). The actual flight, completed at an indoor soccer stadium near Toronto, lasted 64 seconds and reached a maximum altitude of 3.3 meters. 

This is just amazing, dudes. I mean, a bunch of crazy people had a really dumb idea, found enough people to fund them, and then went and proved the idea wasn’t so dumb at all.

The Aerovelo folks had the massive, indoor facility for five days to perform their testing. On the last of those five days, they’d used up almost all their time. They had, maybe, 10 minutes left before they had to vacate the space. And then — wam — they met the prize conditions.

All right, dudes! Let’s hear it for the Aerovelo people, brave dudes and dudettes with a crazy idea. So crazy — say it with me — it just might work. And it did.

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Science? Okay, sure. Why not?

by Richard

Sometimes, dudes, you just have to go with the flow. Like, for instance, when you decide you need to to a little mega-scale science for the watching masses.

Which is what these dudes and dudettes in Utah had to do. They wanted to drop a little science bomb on the waiting masses so they decided the best way to do that was to drop 20,000 bouncy balls from a helicopter.

Yeah, you read that right. Twenty thousand bouncy balls. Dropped from a helicopter.

I have no idea what they were supposed to be demonstrating and, frankly, dudes, I don’t care. They dropped 20,000 bouncy balls from a helicopter and filmed the event.

Isn’t that good enough?

Why, yes. Yes it is.

And, so, here is the wonderful video.

Enjoy it, in all its nonsensical glory.

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by Richard

When I was growing up in Dallas, I taught her how to swim in our backyard pool. Our families had been friends forever. I went away to college and she grew up, got married and had kids.

This week she buried her youngest son.

The one-car accident occurred when she hit the breaks to avoid a suddenly stopped car ahead of her. Her SUV swerved off the road and crashed. She, her oldest son and her daughter were slightly injured. Her 6-year-old son, who was wearing a lap belt, died on the helicopter that was airlifting him to the hospital.

Her parents were waiting there, at the hospital. Waiting to take custody of their grandchild. Waiting to become the first family members forced to deal with the lifeless body of this once-vibrant, once-laughing young dude.

I never met him, but I kept up with him through Christmas cards, letters, and family gossip. I am the worse for that. We are all the worse for that.

When something like this happens, we all sigh sadly, shake our heads and wonder how the family deals with a tragedy of this magnitude. Let me tell you, no matter what kind of face the family puts on, they deal with it badly. Very, very badly. He was a part of their life. A walking, breathing wonderful and hugging part of their life and he leaves a boy-shaped hole in their hearts that grows bigger with every passing second that goes by without him to fill it.

There really are no words to express the sort of tragedy implicit in this. A child passing before his parents, before his grandparents. Far, far too soon.

I can’t really understand what she’s going through right now. What they all are going through. And, as selfish as it sounds, I hope I never do get that sort of understanding.

What I do know is they are in terrible pain, filled with anger and sadness and inconsolable grief and I wish there was something I could do to ease that pain.

My young dudes never knew him either and keep wondering why I’m hugging them so much these last few days. It’s only natural, I suppose. I want them to know they are loved and treasured and I want to reassure myself that they really are here. And are healthy.

I can only hold her in my thoughts and let her know she is not alone, that there are people who love her and will be there for her and will do anything they can to help.

I might have taught her how to swim, but there are some waters that must be crossed on your own, no matter how much we might wish otherwise.

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