Paid Advertisement
Historynet/feed historynet feedback facebook link World History Group RSS feed World History Group Subscriptions Historynet Home page

Sikorsky Prize Goes to Canadians

By Nan Siegel 
Originally published by Aviation History magazine. Published Online: September 06, 2013 
Print Friendly
1 comment FONT +  FONT -

Todd Reichert prepares to make history during the June 13 attempt to meet the Igor I. Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Challenge. [Image: Aerovelo]
Todd Reichert prepares to make history during the June 13 attempt to meet the Igor I. Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Challenge. [Image: Aerovelo]

After 33 years, the Igor I. Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Challenge has at last been met. The American Helicopter Society's requirements were rigorous: The machine had to fly for at least 60 seconds, rise to at least 3 meters and remain within a horizontal area no larger than 10 meters. On June 13, a team of young Canadian engineers known as AeroVelo, founded by Todd Reichert and Cameron Robertson, succeeded on all counts with their Atlas multicopter. Their flight lasted 64 seconds and reached 3.3 meters altitude.

Subscribe Today

Subscribe to Aviation History magazine

Reichert and Robertson began the project with a Kickstarter bid that provided $30,000 toward an airframe. Altogether, they worked on the Atlas for 18 months. Though their bicycle-powered helicopter weighs only 122 pounds, it's larger than most commercial aircraft, with four sets of rotors that are each 66 feet in diameter. Reichert supplied pedal-power for the winning performance in June, though Robertson pointed out in a radio interview that each flight involves a crew of 10 assistants on the ground.

The successful June 13 flight, which took place inside a Toronto soccer center, came at the very end of five days of testing. Once both the American Helicopter Society and the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale certified the results of that effort, AeroVelo received a $250,000 check in July.

Spurring on the Canadians' bid were the efforts of an American team. The University of Maryland's Gamera helicopter had already succeeded in meeting Sikorsky's altitude and duration requirements, but struggled to achieve the control needed to stay within the specified horizontal area during flights. As Cameron Robertson said in the radio interview, late in the competition both teams were avidly following each other's Twitter feeds to keep abreast of the latest results. He noted, "It was incredible how neck-and-neck it was at the end." For more on AeroVelo's Atlas and the winning flight, see


One Response to “Sikorsky Prize Goes to Canadians”

  1. 1
    George Metaxas says:

    Well done for AEROVELO, but how much a helicopter is a machine that clearly flies in ground effect?
    I guess that never a human powered helicopter could fly (even less hover) out of ground effect, the way a human powered airplane can do.

Leave a Reply

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Related Articles

History Net Images Spacer
Paid Advertisement
Paid Advertisement
History Net Daily Activities
History net Spacer
History net Spacer
Historynet Spacer

Which of these wars resulted in the most surprising underdog upset?

View Results | See previous polls

Loading ... Loading ...
History net Spacer
RSS Feed Daily Email Update
History net Spacer
Paid Advertisement

Paid Advertisement
What is HistoryNet? is brought to you by World History Group, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines.

If you are interested in a specific history subject, try searching our archives, you are bound to find something to pique your interest.

From Our Magazines
World History Group

World History Group Network:  HistoryNet | Armchair General | Achtung Panzer!
Today in History | Ask Mr. History | Picture of the Day | Daily History Quiz | Contact Us

Copyright © 2015 World History Group. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Advertise With Us | Subscription Help | Privacy Policy