Can this polystyrene pedal-powered plane break world records?
The human powered flight trend was made a little more interesting this week when Japanese engineering team Aeroscepsy said they were in the midst of tweaking a polystyrene 'plane' powered by pedal pushing in the hopes that they can beat the world record for distance traveled in a human-propelled plane.
The team of ten engineers -- who all currently work for Yahama -- say that a professional mountain biker is waiting in the wings to pilot their "Gokurakutombo" craft, which has a wingspan of 117 feet (35.6 meters), half of a Boeing 747 jet. The plane only weighs 81 pounds (37kg) due to its polystyrene construction, and comes together through a carbon fiber shell.
The Gokurakutombo, a pun on "happy dragonfly," will hopefully snatch the record for human flight set in 1988 by the MIT's Daedalus, which was able to reach a distance of 71.5 miles (115km) after setting off in Crete.
The leader of the Aeroscepsy team, Shinsuke Yano, told the AFP:
"We are pretty confident about reaching a new record. We know from past tests that our aircraft has that capacity. The most difficult part is reading weather conditions. Light wind can upset the fragile plane."
The engineers hope to set off on their record attempt close to Mt. Fuji and across the Pacific early next year. If all goes to plan, the Gokurakutombo will be gunning for roughly 75 miles.