January 22, 1987: Human Powered Aircraft Sets New Record for Closed-Course Distance

  • Published
  • Air Force Flight Test Center

Glenn Tremmel established a new record for closed-course distance by pedaling the Michelob Light Eagle a distance of 37.2 miles in two hours and 13 minutes. The human-powered aircraft was a project by students and faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Aeronautics and Astronautics Department's Daedalus was a human-powered aircraft that, on April 23, 1988, flew a distance of 72.4 miles in 3 hours, 54 minutes, from Heraklion on the island of Crete to the island of Santorini.  The flight holds official Federal Aviation world records for total distance, straight-line distance, and duration for human-powered aircraft.  The craft was named after the mythological inventor of aviation, Daedalus, and was inspired by the Greek myth of Daedalus' escape from Crete using manmade wings.  There were actually three aircraft constructed:  Light Eagle (originally Michelob Light Eagle): a 92 pound prototype,  Daedalus 87: Crashed during testing at Rogers Dry Lake (NASA Dryden Flight Research Center) on February 17, 1988, and was rebuilt as a backup,  .Daedalus 88: Flew from Crete to just off the beach on Santorini, both Daedalus 87 and Daedalus 88' weighed 69 pounds.  All three aircraft were constructed at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory Flight Facility at Hanscom Field outside Boston, Massachusetts, by a team of undergraduate students, faculty, and recent graduates of MIT.

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