Teenager Builds Pedal-Powered Airplane

Photo: Jesse van Kuijk

Dutch teenager Jesse van Kuijk designed and built a crude but functional human-powered aircraft:

Dates pour out of him as he relates the history of human-powered flight. The year 1979 was another landmark: Another craft, dubbed the Gossamer Albatross, made a successful flight over the English Channel, flying over 35 kilometers in less than three hours. The Gossamer Albatross was flown by American Bryan Allen, who now works in California as a software engineer for the Mars exploration project. Van Kuijk contacted Allen and the two exchanged emails about van Kuijk's dream of self-powered flight.

In 2006, with his calculations complete, van Kuijk began to collect building materials. For over three years he gathered extremely light balsa wood, polyurethane and the light, rip-resistant foil that would eventually line the craft's 26-meter-wide (85 feet) wings. And then he built what he had designed....

And then suddenly, unbelievably, "the earth under my feet slipped away," van Kuijk exclaimed afterwards. He was flying! Alone, under his own power and in the aircraft he had designed and built. His aircraft flew, he had always known it would. But he could barely believe he had actually managed to defeat gravity's pull.

Link via Gizmodo

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