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On a wing and a pedal.

On a wing and a pedal

Like the mythic figure Daedalus, pilot Kanellos Kanellopoulos escaped Crete on his own power, pedaling his fragile aircraft 74 miles across the Aegean Sea to the shores of the Greek island Santorini. But like Icarus, who attempted the flight with Daedalus, Kanellopoulos ended up in the sea, just yards from his destination. A gust of wind snapped the lightweight aircraft's tail boom, the wings folded and the wreckage gently settled into the surf, forcing the pilot to swim, then wade to shore.

The human-powered aircraft, named Daedalus 88, took only 3 hours and 54 minutes to complete the flight, which began shortly after 7 A.M. on April 23. Assisted by a light tail wind, it flew at an average speed of 18.5 miles per hour about 15 feet above the water. The largely transparent, plastic and carbon-fiber plane weighed only about 70 pounds, despite its 112-foot wingspan.

Kanellopoulos and Daedalus 88 set three records for human-powered flight. They broke the records for the longest straight-line flight and for duration aloft, set in 1979 when Bryan Allen pedaled the Gossasmer Albatross 22.5 miles across the English Channel in 2 hours and 49 minutes. The flight also broke the distance record of 37.2 miles set last year by Glenn Tremml in a Daedalus prototype named the Light Eagle (SN: 11/7/87, p.302).

The Daedalus flight went remarkably smoothly, except for the landing. There appeared to be no mechanical malfunctions, and the pilot, a Greek bicycling champion who had been prepared for a flight of up to 6 hours, had plenty of energy to spare when he hit the water.

Original plans for the flight called for a takeoff from a location somewhere along Crete's northwestern coast and a landing on the Greek mainland (SN: 4/12/86, p.229). But both the intended takeoff and landing sites proved inaccessible, forcing a switch to the slightly longer route from the Heraklion military airfield on Crete to Perissa Beach on Santorini's southeast shore. The Daedalus team waited almost a month before the right weather conditions for the flight -- a light tail wind, temperatures below 70 [deg.]F and good visibility -- finally came.
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Title Annotation:human-powered aircraft flies across Aegean Sea
Author:Peterson, Ivars
Publication:Science News
Date:Apr 30, 1988
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