Human-powered aircraft

A human-powered aircraft (HPA or MPA, of Engl. Human powered aircraft or one powered aircraft, human powered aircraft ) is an aircraft that is driven only by means of the muscular power of the pilots taking advantage of the sliding characteristics of the aircraft structure.

Since human muscle is no different than, say, the flight muscles in birds capable of in the long run, that is, without a long recovery periods to peak performance, powered by a human muscle power aircraft must have an extremely low wing loading.

Design principles of a human-powered aircraft are therefore:

  • Minimization of the total weight,
  • Extreme range,
  • High glide ratio and
  • Maximizing the strength of the bearing parts.

The construction of a functioning muscle strength aircraft was in the first place by the use of new materials possible, these lightweight, coupled with sufficient strength permitted.


  • In his published in 1680 book De motu animalium calculated the Italian scholar Giovanni Alfonso Borelli that human muscles have not enough power for a bird-like flying.
  • In 1934 saw the Berlin Chief Engineer Engelbert Zaschka that a large wingspan for a flight with muscle strength is crucial. Therefore, he paid his construction of a 20 meter long, narrow wings. The wing was supported wire with a vertical king post ( collar beams ) provided. A system that was subsequently used very successfully in HPAs. The frame of the Zaschka muscle strength aircraft consisted of steel tubes, so it could be accelerated evenly with up to four men at the nominal airspeed. In flight tests on July 11, 1934 Engelbert Zaschka could reach 20 meters in length in Tempelhof unassisted jump start floating.
  • On August 23, 1977, built by a team under Paul MacCready Gossamer Condor won with Bryan Allen as pilot the Kremer Prize for sustained controlled flight with muscle strength. Condition was a flight in a human-powered aircraft in the form of a horizontal figure eight around two 800-meter -spaced piles within eight minutes.
  • June 12, 1979: Bryan Allen crossed the English Channel between Folkestone and Cap Gris -Nez, distance 35.8 kilometers in 2:49 hours by plane Gossamer Albatross. The mass of the aircraft was 32 kg with a total weight of 100 kg.
  • Pelargos 1983 Wingspan: 26 m, Weight: 36 kg flight distance: 800 m ( airfield runway length ). In Switzerland, built muscle strength aircraft by Max Horlacher.
  • Musculair 2, built in 1985, a light-weight and muscle strength aircraft, with the h about 1.5 kilometers flown to Holger Rochelt, the son of the designer Günther Rochelt, on the airfield Schleißheim in Munich with the average speed of 44 km / set a world record for that particular aircraft type.
  • Velair 88 and 89, 1988-89, built muscle force plane of Peer Frank in Germany.
  • April 23, 1988: The students and professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) built muscle strength aircraft Daedalus 88 of the Daedalus project ( weight 31 kg, range 34 m ) flew from Heraklion, Crete to Santorini. The pilot was the Greek cyclist Kanellos Kanellopoulos. A few meters from the beach of Santorini broke the plane by a gust of wind. The flight lasted three hours and 54 minutes at a speed of about 32 km / h ( with a tailwind ).
  • June 21, 2012: Students at the University of Maryland put on with " Gamera II" set a new record of 49.9 seconds for muscle-powered helicopter.