Congrats to AeroVelo, who won the Sikorsky Prize of $250,000 for their Atlas Helicopter - just one of the many flyers competing for the prize. To win the huge bounty, the flyer must be a human-powered helicopter that must fly for more than a minute and reach an of more than 3 m (9.8 ft), while remaining within a 10 m x 10 m (33 x 33 ft) box. And on June 13, The Atlas Helicopter did just that, setting world record with its flight time of 64.11 seconds. It was able to reach a height of 3.3 m (10.8 ft), and deviated from an effective standstill by only 9.8 m (32 ft). It had a 10-second ascent that was followed by a gradual return to the ground, with the pilot having to work against an air drift. Last Thursday, the Canadian team and pilot Todd Reichert received the prize money from the American Helicopter Society and Sikorsky.
But this wasn’t the first time that Atlas flew, having flown for 4 seconds last August. It also had two crashes during testing earlier this year. The company says a lot has changed since then, which has allowed them to create the current record-breaking Atlas that features four rotors that are arranged in a square formation. These are actually mounted on shorter arms than in previous models, so that the rotors now overlap. It’s composed of carbon fiber strengthened with Vectran braided cord. The ribs and skin of the rotor system are made from polystyrene, balsa wood and polyester film. Its drive system is like a bicycle with a pilot pedaling from the middle of the helicopter.