The design concept has switched to a more conventional tailed design. New images have been added showing the configuration. This was done because, although we think the it would have flown, the tailless aircraft would have been about 10 lbs heavier than a tailed aircraft. The extra weight would have been needed to give the tailless aircraft’s swept wings, which are relatively narrow, adequate torsion stiffness. A tailed aircraft can use unswept wings which are subjected to a much smaller torques and the tail itself doesn’t weight much. The span is still 78 feet and the empty weight is currently targeted at about 62 lbs.
We were able to test the strength of our wing joints thanks to Milo Clauson at Oregon State University. A titanium coupler joint was subjected to a 3-point bend equivalent to a 3g load on our aircraft. It suffered no damage or fatigue and the tested joint will probably end up on the final aircraft.
The fuselage and propeller design is complete, pending wind tunnel verification of their desired aerodynamic performance. Our propeller should operate at 89-91% efficiency despite the fact that its 1 meter radius is relatively small for human-powered aircraft. We have nearly finished constructing prototype wheels for the aircraft. We decided we could construct our own disc wheels lighter (and considerably cheaper) than bicycle wheels available off the shelf. There is some warranted concern is that they may be too flimsy; we prefer to think of this as knowing they aren’t too heavy. We’ll post pictures when the wheels are finished.
If you haven’t already seen them, I highly recommend watching the recently released videos of the University of Toronto’s human-powered ornithopter. It is called the Snowbird and the flapping wings make the aircraft extremely graceful. It’s all the more impressive when you consider that the first manned, engine-powered ornithopter flew in 2006. Here are links to both their website and flight videos.
It’s been a while since the last update, but we’ve been getting a lot done.
We were unable to use the original recumbent bicycle to test the effectiveness of different rider positions. I couldn’t ride it because my knees hit the frame tube. A new recumbent frame had to be built for the ergometer which utilizes a car jack to raise and lower the seat. We’re slowly collecting lightweight bicycle parts to use on the aircraft.
A few slightly different designs for the wing structure have been developed and need to be tested for strength. We are gathering the materials we need to make these test segments. We’re also trying to pin down both the tools to make molds and the location to do our composite layups.
A propeller will be constructed along with the wing segments. We will use wind tunnel tests to verify that the propeller runs at the nearly 90% efficiency required for human-powered aircraft. A ten-foot tall steel tripod has already been built as a mount for the propeller inside the wind tunnel.
Images have been added to the gallery.
The most interesting images are probably those of the Rotor Cranks. These cranks are unique because they aren’t always aligned 180° apart. The pedals travel slightly faster on the upstroke than they travel on the downstroke. When one foot gets to the bottom of it’s stroke (i.e. finishes pushing), the other foot is already 15° over the top and started into it’s down stroke (i.e. already pushing). The Rotor’s ensure that one leg is always in a power generating phase.
We haven’t yet tested the cranks to see if we are able to realize the advertised power gains – up to 16%. We’re skeptical about such a dramatic improvement, but the concept seems intriguing and even a small increase in power would be a huge benefit. The cranks will be run through rigorous tests when we have better shoes to use with the Aerolite pedals, which are also shown in the gallery. Click here or on the menu above to visit the image gallery.
The purpose of this website is to document the development of Neal and Ian Meyer’s human-powered aircraft. More information, especially photos, will be uploaded in the near future. We will also be posting updates about our progress on this webpage as we move forward. Stay tuned!
At the moment, we have a well-developed aerodynamic design for our aircraft. We’ve departed from other human-powered aircraft designs by choosing to build a tailless aircraft. The size and shape of control surfaces (ailerons/elevators) is currently in the design process. We also have a promising structural design, which we are in the process of testing with more accurate computer models. The pilot’s ideal position and maximum power output are being determined on a stationary test bed. The propeller design cannot be finalized until we have more accurate estimates of pilot power output and of the aircraft weight. There are many concurrent aspects of the design process. We’ll be going into greater detail in the future.
If you’d like to support this project, the easiest way is to share this website with your friends. A larger following will help us to get more support from sponsors in the future. Our sponsors have been very generous to us by either making their products more affordable or donating their time or both.
You can contact us by either posting a comment or sending an email to or . It’s always good to talk to other people who share our interest in human-powered flight.