AeroVelo wins $250,000 AHS Sikorsky man-powered helicopter prize

AeroVelo wins $250,000 AHS Sikorsky man-powered helicopter prize

12-Jul-2013 Source: AeroVelo etc

Various interested parties issued similar press releases of this event.   Firstly, here’s the one from the AeroVelo team themselves

Great news! The American Helicopter Society has officially declared AeroVelo winner of the Igor I. Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Competition. After a thorough and rigorous independent analysis of the flight data of June 13th 2013 12:43 EDT, the AHS Human-Powered Helicopter Committee concluded that indeed Atlas’ epic flight 1) exceeded 60 seconds duration, 2) exceeded 3m in height, and 3) remained within a 10m x 10m box.

We’re very excited for the world to learn about this exciting milestone in aviation history. At AeroVelo we hope to inspire people to take on great challenges and accomplish the impossible. We would like the public to understand that with innovative engineering and creative design we can find sustainable and environmentally conscious solutions to many of the technological challenges facing our generation.

This incredible flight was 64.11 seconds in duration (World Record for “Duration on Hover”), reached a 3.3m peak altitude, and drifted a maximum of 9.8m. The Atlas as flown on June 13th behaved very differently from the aircraft we first flew some 9 months ago, a result of many incremental improvements and changes. In 18 months this passionate team went from preliminary design to achieving what many considered impossible, taking down one of the most daunting aviation feats of the past century.

We have made available to the public the draft Draft FAI World Record Claim we will be submitting to the FAI (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, or International Aeronautics Federation). The FAI is the international body which oversees all aviation records, and which certified the flight of the Snowbird Human-Powered Ornithopter in 2010. This document contains much of the evidence that we’ll be submitting for evaluation, as well as some other interesting data on the AHS Sikorsky Prize-winning flight. Enjoy!

We at AeroVelo would like to extend our heartfelt thanks and sincerest gratitude to the American Helicopter Society and to Sikorsky Aircraft for their vision in establishing and supporting this monumental challenge. By their backing, these two organizations have demonstrated a continuing commitment to innovation and to the education of the next generation of young engineers.


Then there’s one from AHS

AHS International, the world’s premier professional vertical flight technical society, congratulates AeroVelo, Inc. for winning its Igor I. Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Competition for the first time since the Society established it 33 years ago.

A panel of vertical flight technical experts – the AHS International Human Powered Helicopter Competition Committee – thoroughly reviewed the design and flight testing of Toronto, Ontario-based AeroVelo’s Atlas human powered helicopter, as well as data from its June 13, 2013 flight. Based on that review, the committee has verified that the Atlas flight met all of the requirements to win the competition and its US$250,000 prize. AeroVelo’s Dr. Todd Reichert piloted and pedaled the Atlas on that flight inside The Soccer Centre in Vaughan, Ontario.

The requirements to win the AHS Sikorsky prize were for an aircraft using only human power to fly for at least 60 seconds, reach an altitude of at least 3 meters (9.8 feet) and remain hovering over a 10 by 10 meter (32.8 by 32.8 foot) area. The full competition regulations, as well as past news updates, videos and other information, are available on the AHS International website,

“The AHS Sikorsky Prize challenged the technical community to harness teamwork, technical skills and cutting edge technologies to meet requirements that were on the ragged edge of feasibility,” said AHS International Executive Director Mike Hirschberg. “It took AeroVelo’s fresh ideas, daring engineering approach and relentless pursuit of innovation – coupled with more than three decades of advances in structures, composites, computer-aided design and aeromechanical theory – to succeed in achieving what many in vertical flight considered impossible. We congratulate the Atlas team on its incredible success.”

The American Helicopter Society (AHS), as the Society was then known, established the competition in 1980, and named it for one of its most important founding members, Igor I. Sikorsky. AHS originally offered a US$10,000 prize, which was soon raised to US$25,000. In 2009, Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. – which Igor I. Sikorsky founded in 1923 – increased the prize to US$250,000 to better spur vertical flight innovation.

The competition was specifically designed to energize students and other innovators, by providing a hands-on, galvanizing experience for the next generations of vertical flight engineers, scientists and other specialists. The international competition has attracted teams from Canada (including schools in Montreal and Vancouver), Japan, the U.S., and around the world.

“The scientific breakthroughs, engineering innovations and inspiring accomplishments that have been engendered by the AHS Sikorsky Prize are a testament to the ability of the human spirit to tackle seemingly impossible challenges,” said Hirschberg.

The Atlas is larger than any operational helicopter ever constructed, based on its overall width of 58 meters (190 feet), though it weighs only 52 kilograms (115 pounds). It has four 20.4 meter (67 foot) diameter rotors that are powered by the pilot pedaling a Cervelo carbon-fiber bicycle. The Atlas project was begun in January 2012 and made its first flight in August 2012.

AeroVelo is one of three teams recently flying as part of the AHS competition. The others are the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland with its Gamera II helicopter and California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California with its Upturn II aircraft.

AHS International is also pleased to announce that AeroVelo’s win is not the end, but the beginning. The AHS Igor I. Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Competition will soon be followed by another grand challenge, the details of which are currently being refined.

About AHS International

AHS International, based in Alexandria, Virginia, is the world’s premier professional vertical flight technical society. The Society provides global leadership for scientific, technical, educational and legislative initiatives that advance the state of the art of vertical flight. On February 25, 2013, the Society marked 70 years of bringing together industry, academia and governments to tackle the toughest challenges in vertical flight. The Society was initiated by Sikorsky Aircraft employees, including Igor I. Sikorsky, just weeks after his company received the first American production helicopter contract.

AHS International has more than 6,000 members in 37 countries, including the world’s leading vertical flight manufacturers, suppliers and education and research institutions. Among the Society’s members are engineers, scientists, corporate executives, civilian and military program managers, pilots, safety specialists, students and faculty, and leaders in research, development, manufacturing, procurement and maintenance.

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Then there’s Sikorsky’s one:-

AHS and Sikorsky Aircraft presented the award at a special ceremony today at The Soccer Centre in Vaughan, Ontario where the record-breaking flight was conducted on June 13.

The Toronto-based AeroVelo (derived from the word aerodynamic and the French term for bicycle) team is led by Dr. Todd Reichert, pilot and chief engineer, and Cameron Robertson, co-chief engineer. The team, comprised largely of students at the University of Toronto, beat the 33-year old challenge last month, flying its “Atlas” above 3 meters (9.8 feet) and hovering for approximately 64 seconds. Officials from the American Helicopter Society (AHS) International verified the flight data over the past few weeks and concluded it meets all of the criteria necessary to win the competition.

The AHS first issued the human-powered flight challenge in 1980, with an initial prize of $10,000. Since then, many teams have attempted to meet the objective of creating a helicopter that could rise three meters and hover over a 10-meter-by-10-meter box for one minute using only human-generated power.

“When Sikorsky increased the prize to a quarter-million dollars in May 2009, many people were skeptical and felt the challenge was impossible,” said Mark Miller, Vice President, Research and Engineering for Sikorsky. “And that is exactly why we raised the stakes – to encourage creative thinkers to prove that what is considered impossible is often proven to be possible. That has been the philosophy of Sikorsky Aircraft since the founding of our company by aviation pioneer Igor Sikorsky 90 years ago. Congratulations to the AeroVelo team!”

“This is an incredible accomplishment,” said Mike Hirschberg, executive director of AHS International. “For a third of a century, the AHS Sikorsky Prize has eluded the best minds and technology available. The technological and theoretical advancements achieved in pursuit of our challenge have been astounding.”

“The past two years of the competition have been very exciting, with several teams racing to best one another, and more flights than the previous 30 years combined,” said Benjamin Hein, Chairman of the AHS Igor I. Sikorsky Human-Powered Helicopter Committee and a senior engineer at Sikorsky Aircraft.

More than 20 human-powered helicopters have been designed and built since the competition began, though only a handful have gotten off the ground. Recent teams contending for the prize include the University of Maryland’s Gamera and the California Polytechnic State University team with its Upturn aircraft. The most successful competitors from the 1980’s and 1990’s included a student team at California Polytechnic State University with its DaVinci III helicopter and the team at Nihon University flying the Yuri I, which previously held the world HPH endurance record at 19.5 seconds.

AeroVelo’s Atlas vehicle is the largest human-powered helicopter to have flown, and the first in Canada, with each of its four rotors measuring nearly 70 feet. The airframe is constructed of very light carbon tube and polymer weighing only 115 lb, with a highly modified bicycle frame pedaled by the pilot. It first flew in August 2012.

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., based in Stratford, Conn., is a world leader in helicopter design, manufacture, and service. Its Sikorsky Innovations group, part of Sikorsky’s Research & Engineering organization, develops advanced rotorcraft concepts and systems, including X2 Technology®, which has proven its ability to double the speed of today’s helicopters.

United Technologies Corp., based in Hartford, Conn., provides a broad range of high technology products and support services to the aerospace and building systems industries.

AHS International, based in Alexandria, Va., is the world’s premier professional vertical flight technical society. The organization brings together industry, academia and governments to tackle the toughest challenges in vertical flight.

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