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Gossamer Albatross

Gossamer Albatross

Champion bicyclist and hang-gliding enthusiast Bryan Allen demonstrates sustained, maneuverable, human-powered flight while flying the “Gossamer Condor” for 7 minutes, 2.7 seconds in a closed course. The “Gossamer Condor” was designed by Dr. Paul MacCready and Dr. Peter Lissamen and was made of thin aluminum tubes, mylar plastic, and stainless steel wire. By making the flight, Allen collected the $95,000 Kremer Prize, established in 1959 by British industrialist Henry Kremer.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/lindbergh/timeline/index_2.html

The Gossamer Albatross II was involved in slow-speed flight tests at the Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California in the spring of 1980.

The original Gossamer Albatross is best known for completing the first completely human powered flight across the English Channel on June 12, 1979. Dr. Paul McCready was later awarded the most prestigious prize in American aviation, the Collier Trophy for his work in the record breaking project.

The Albatross II was the backup craft for the Channel flight. It was fitted with a small battery-powered electric motor and flight instruments for the NASA research program in low-speed flight. The minimal power required to fly this 94-foot-span aircraft suggested it could be solar-powered, and led to numerous later record breaking projects involving solar energy. NASA completed its flight testing of the Gossamer Albatross II and began analysis of the results in April, 1980.

During the six week program, 17 actual data gathering flights and 10 other flights were flown here as part of the joint NASA Langley/Dryden flight research program.

The lightweight craft, carrying a miniaturized instrumentation system, was flown in three configurations; using human power, with a small electric motor, and towed with the propeller removed.

Results from the program contributed to data on the unusual aerodynamic, performance, stability, and control characteristics of large, lightweight aircraft that fly at slow speeds for application to future high altitude aircraft.

The Albatross’ design and research data contributed to numerous later high altitude projects, including the Pathfinder.

http://www.dfrc.nasa.gov/gallery/photo/Albatross/HTML

Dr. MacCready is widely known as the “father of human powered flight” for ground-breaking AeroVironment aircraft flown in the late 1970s, including two of the vehicles now in the Smithsonian collection. The Gossamer Condor won the Kremer prize for the first controlled human-powered airplane flight in 1977. Two years later, the Gossamer Albatross won a second Kremer prize for a human-powered flight across the English Channel.

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