human-powered airplane

Gossamer Condor

Men have dreamed of flying under their own power for thousands of years. For Paul MacCready, an aerospace engineer with an independent streak, building a human-powered airplane took only a year, but required all his 51 years of experience. “With my particular skills, strengths, and weaknesses, it was almost as though the [challenge] was designed for me,” he says. “Nobody seemed to be quite as motivated for the new and strange as I was.”

On August 23, 1977, MacCready’s plane, the 55-pound Gossamer Condor, took flight above a California air strip, powered by a human bicyclist.

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