Human powered flight?

25 09 2010

A Canadian University student claims to have made history by flying an aircraft he and his friends built with nothing more than human muscle power. The aircraft called the Ornithopther has flapping wings.  But is the claim legitimate? Watch the video here.

Although the team claims to have flown “Snowbird” as the aircraft is christened, a RECORD distance of 475 feet while staying airborne  for 19.3 seconds, the take off was aided by a motored vehicle and a tow line. The aircraft looks almost birdlike and definitely very graceful in flight but  is this really counted as human powered flight? Could the aircraft, after attaining a minimum airspeed, glide for the same distance without any human intervention?

I don;t claim to be an expert at designing an aircraft but it would have been more convincing had the team made it the take off from a knoll and without the aid of a tow line from a motored vehicle. Still this is progress. Perhaps in future they can perfect their wing to produce enough lift for a human powered takeoff!

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Smoke gets in your eyes

21 09 2010

To those of my readers who cannot remember, this is actually a title of a very famous song first written in 1933. The song was covered by many artiste up to the 70’s. Here are the Platters with their version of the song.

I still remember listening to this song on my father’s 8 track and turn table.

But getting smoke in your eyes is as you know very painful, but in the aviation industry, an announcement by the flight crew of “smoke in the cabin” can be very deadly. Very recently, in fact on the 3rd of September 2010, a 747-400 Freighter crashed shortly after taking off from the international airport in Dubai due to the same reason. The captain had radioed to control tower saying there was thick smke n the cockpit and that he was practically “flying blind”.

There is now (and I just found out about it today) a simple but effective piece of  equipment that will so to speak, clear the way for the crew to see his instrument panels and out his windscreen. It’s called the Emergency Vision Assurance System or EVAS which has been installed on about 1500 aircraft. But sad to say it has not been mandated on Commercial Aviation. Here is a video about the system.

I hope in the near future, I will get to see this system installed on all public transport aircraft in the world.