Oh Canada! First you gave us William Shatner, now you give us a human-powered helicopter.
A team of engineers called AeroVelo has won a $250,000 award for creating a human-powered helicopter that could fly three meters off the ground for 60 seconds while keeping the cockpit within a ten-square-meter area. The American Helicopter Society sponsored this Igor I. Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Competition, and the prize money has been on offer for nearly 30 years.
Man-powering a helicopter is tough to do since humans don’t have strength to lift themselves off the ground without large rotors. Of course, large rotors are heavy, making it hard for a human to get the helicopter off the ground. This is the reason all those Renaissance-era experiments with birdlike flapping wings never worked. To cut down on weight, the team used super-light materials that are too delicate to be flown outdoors.
AeroVelo’s flight lasted 64.11 seconds, a world record, and reached up to 3.3 meters in altitude. As you can see from the video, drift was a problem with this and all other competitors, with the machine drifting up to 9.8 meters.
So will this be the new way to get to the hockey game? Probably not. The personal jetpack has been around for decades but never took off either. The Martin Jetpack company is trying to change that, although they haven’t yet made their jetpacks — which will probably cost in the six figures — commercially available yet. Popular Mechanics did an interesting article on why jet packs aren’t feasible.
UK airports and ports are experiencing delays as many customs and immigration officials are on a one-day strike.
The UK Border Agency is one of several UK public sector unions on strike over plans to change pensions, a move they say will have employees working longer, paying more into the system, and getting less out of it when they retire.
Some Border Agency workers started early, at 6pm yesterday, and most airports and ports are reporting some delays. These delays aren’t as bad as were expected, however, because qualified managers have stepped in to fulfill the absent workers’ duties and not all workers are on strike. Still, if you’re flying into the UK today, don’t expect to be relaxing in your hotel an hour after you land.
Passengers leaving the UK will not be affected because they don’t go through customs. Airport security workers are not on strike.
Other government facilities such as schools, courts, and offices are also closed or giving limited service.
[Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]
Here we go again.
After last year’s misery from the Eyjafjallajökull eruption, now another Icelandic volcano, Grimsvötn, is causing a new round of worries.
More than 250 flights have already been canceled as a cloud of volcanic ash blows over Scotland. Most of Ireland, northern Wales, and northern England will see the ash later today.
Several Scottish airports have been affected, including major ones such as Edinburgh and Glasgow. Other airports that will likely have problems today include Londonderry, Prestwick, Durham Tees Valley, Newcastle, and Carlisle. Officials say the cloud should move on and flights from Edinburgh and Glasgow will resume this afternoon. Airports in the far north of Scotland should get the all-clear tomorrow. Of course, that’s assuming there are no more eruptions or changes in the wind.
Luckily the wind has taken much of the ash away from populated areas, over the far north Atlantic, eastern Greenland, and north of Scandinavia.
Several airlines are not flying through Scottish airspace. You can see a full list here. Since the northerly route between Europe and North America passes through the ash cloud, transatlantic flights may have to be diverted, causing delays. Check ahead before going to the airport.
So far this doesn’t look like another Eyjafjallajökull. The Grimsvötn eruption is smaller and the ash particles are bigger, meaning they fall to earth more quickly instead of hanging in the atmosphere for days.
Have your travel plans been affected by the Grimsvötn eruption? Tell us about it in the comments section!
[Photo courtesy Roger McLassus]
The world is one step closer to the era of space tourism after an historic flight in the Mojave desert yesterday.
Virgin Galactic’s spaceship Enterprise took its first solo flight, detaching from the mothership Eve and landing on its own power.
Enterprise can carry six passengers and two crew. The mothership Eve carries Enterprise up into the sky before the Enterprise detaches and ignites its rocket, shooting it above the atmosphere and into space, but not high enough to achieve orbit. The rocket was not fired on this test flight and no passengers were on board. The crew consisted of pilots Pete Siebold and Mike Alsbury, who flew for 25 minutes before landing.
More than three hundred people have already signed up to take a suborbital ride on the Enterprise once it becomes operational. Rides cost $200,000 each and are scheduled to start in about eighteen months.
The British owner of Virgin, Sir Richard Branson, watched the test. The success of the operation came as good news after Virgin Galactic’s financial difficulties.
Would you fly into space if you had the money? Tell us what you think in the comments section!