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Birdmen take flight at Lasham
BIRDMEN took to the skies around Lasham Airfield as part of a competition to promote human-powered flight.
Five teams took part in the inaugural Icarus Cup, organised by the Royal Aeronautical Society, which saw pilots on bicycle-powered planes fly for up to 1,250 metres.
In 1961, the Hampshire airfield was the site of the first human-powered flight by Derek Piggott, a postgraduate aeronautical engineer at Southampton University.
Emma Bossom, head of conferences at the Royal Aeronautical Society, said the competition had been a success, with all five teams getting their aircraft off the ground.
She said: “We were seeing attempts every 10 to 20 years so we wanted to bring people together and encourage the advancement of ideas and the development of people’s aircraft.
“There was quite a difference in designs – that was one of the fantastic things about the competition.”
The competitors had to test their aircraft in a number of tasks, including races over distances including 200m and 1km, and a 500m slalom. Some of the aircraft managed to reach a height of 5m, and the longest flight lasted one minute 53 seconds for a distance of 1,250m.
The winning team was P&M Aviation, based in Marlborough, Wiltshire. Its aircraft Airglow had a wingspan of 25m and an empty weight of 35.7kg.
One of the team’s pilots Robin Kraike won the individual Icarus Cup. Other teams included Salisbury-based aircraft developer Aeroelvira, Bath University, Southampton University and David Barford, a Formula 1 engineer.
Dr Bill Brooks, chairman of the society’s Human Powered Aircraft Specialist Group, hopes human-powered flight will take-off as a sport.
He said: “As designs progress, it has become less necessary for the pilot to be a highly-trained athlete – anyone is a potential pilot. This competition marks the start of a new era of sport aviation and we hope to encourage wider participation in human-powered flying.”
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