Aerovelo was flying Atlas on Monday and Tuesday with two objectives. One was to set new endurance records for human powered helicopter flight, records that were currently held by Team Gamera. The other was to give all team members a chance to fly the helicopter. On Monday, new records for men’s and women’s flight endurance were set. Today, the objective was to extend these records further. These two days were chosen because of the rare availability of two consecutive days at the Soccer Centre, that allowed the team to keep Atlas assembled overnight.
The secret weapon was a thinner drive line. The standard drive line had been Vectran (to the left), and the new line was Technora, which is an aramid like Kevlar. The point was that the new lines were thinner, and so they estimated that they could wind 3-4 minutes of line on the spools, whereas with Vectran, they were limited to about a minute and a half.
However, a series of trim flights with Calvin in the pilot’s seat showed unexpected problems with the Technora. It was anticipated that the new lines would be stretchier, but they were also harder to handle since they were twisted, rather than the braided Vectran lines. A record attempt with Calvin had to be terminated due to oscillations that may have been aggravated by the new drive lines.
At this point, the team decided to change back to the Vectran, retrim the aircraft, and then let Alexis have a go at extending her own record of 47 seconds (set yesterday). Here she is during her 55 second flight which is a new women’s record.
I didn’t get pictures of everyone who flew this afternoon, but you can get an idea from Aerovelo’s twitter feed.
A great two days of flights! New men's and women's records, and possibly a record for most people flown in one day!!!! Thank you all!
— AeroVelo (@AeroVelo) September 25, 2013
It’s very likely that Aerovelo doubled the total number of people who have ever flown a Human Powered Helicopter, in a single afternoon.
It was very interesting. The objective was to gradually ramp up the power so that the drive lines don’t get untracked. I did so, and I kept waiting for lift off. All of a sudden I was rising up, somewhat faster than expected. At this point I leveled off the power, and then started tapering it off when signaled by Todd, all the while trying to spin as smoothly as possible. All too soon it was over.
It also goes without saying what an exceptional machine Atlas is, if a middle aged guy with no training can get it off the ground without too much trouble. Thanks to Todd and Cam and the rest of the Aerovelo team for this incredible opportunity.
Marc had one of the last flights of the day. He had found out some kind of contest for lifting beer by quadcopters. This explains his choice of headgear.
Note also the beer can in the water bottle holder.
Word is that there might be one more flight event in November, perhaps as part of a fundraising venture, but this was a fantastic way of thanking all the members of the team for their hard work. After that, Atlas will be shipped off to a museum or some other setting TBD.
Update: Aerovelo’s official account of the two days is here.