On June 13, Todd Reichert and the AeroVelo team (mostly students at the University of Toronto) entered the history books, winning the American Helicopter Society’s Igor I. Sikorsky Human-Powered Helicopter Competition. The competition requires flying above three meters for at least one minute within a 10- by 10-meter space.
Reichert, pilot and chief engineer of Aero Velo, pedaled and piloted the record-breaking four-rotor AeroVelo Atlas flight at the Ontario Soccer Centre in Vaughan, Ontario (Canada). The flight lasted 64.11 seconds and reached up to 9.8 feet off the ground.
The Atlas weighs 122 pounds (empty) and is made of carbon fiber, balsa wood, polystyrene foam, DuPont Kevlar thread and Melinex polyester film, Vectran line and a Cervelo R5ca bike frame for the pilot. The Atlas is the second-largest helicopter ever built–154 feet from rotor tip to tip–according to AeroVelo (the Mil V-12 is the largest) and needed 700 watts average power to fly, peaking at 1,100 watts, “which is the same as a cordless drill.”
The AHS Sikorsky award was presented at a ceremony at the Soccer Centre on July 11. The prize was first offered in 1980 at $10,000, but in May 2009 Sikorsky increased it to $250,000.
Aviation Prize History
2011: NASA awarded $1.35 million to team Pipistrel-USA.com, the first-place winner of the CAFE Green Flight Challenge. (2013 value: $1.401 million)
1980 ($10,000 increased to $250,000 in 2009): The American Helicopter Society Igor I. Sikorsky Human-Powered Helicopter Competition was won in 2013 by the AeroVelo team. (2013 value: $250,000)
1910: William Randolph Hearst offered the $50,000 Hearst Transcontinental Prize, but despite a valiant effort marred by multiple crashes, contender Calbraith Perry Rodgers overflew the 30-day deadline. (2013 value: $1.2 million)
1913: The £10,000 Daily Mail Trans-Atlantic Prize was finally won in 1919 when John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown flew a Vickers Vimy from Newfoundland to Ireland. (2013 value: $39,237)
1927: Charles Lindbergh won the $25,000 1919 Orteig Prize for his nonstop New York to Paris flight. (2013 value: $335,500)
Note: inflation-adjusted prize amounts are shown for the year when they were awarded.