These Students Have Made A Human-Powered Aircraft With No Enginer And ‘Impossible Engineering’

Students at the University of Southampton have figured out to power flight using only the muscle power of a single pilot, technically known as human-powered aircraft (HPA). The team has won their first Formula Flight competition with their design named Lazarus.

The Royal Aeronautical Society’s Human Powered Flight Group organizes this competition. According to its webpage, human-powered flying is a sport that combines “extreme athleticism with almost impossible engineering”.

The aircraft employed in the sport must have a low cruise speed and lightweight construction. This enables them to fly only in low winds and achieving flight can be rather hard though not impossible.

In 2019, a team of students designed Lazarus Mk1. Work on actual construction began later in October of that year and was completed by March 2020.

It was built with the help of XPA foam, carbon fiber, and balsa wood. The aircraft has a wingspan of 78 feet (24 meters) and an empty weight of 112 pounds (51 kilograms). A nearly 10-foot (3 meters) wide propeller at the rear of the aircraft brings about 400 Watts (W) of power. This is enough to take flight. The aircraft consists of a 13-foot (four meters) long elevator and 6.56 foot (two meters) rudder.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the first flight for the HPA to June 2021.

The students have also dedicated a society for this project called the Southampton University Human Powered Aircraft Society (SUHPA). They aim to work on it even when they have graduated. 

The new undertaking of SUHPA is called Super Lazarus which has the same wingspan of 78 feet (24 meters) but its weight has been decreased to 83 pounds (38 kilograms). They also participated in another HPA event, called the Icarus Cup, organized by the British Human Powered Flying Club (BHPFC).

The Super Lazarus flew for a self-record of 31 seconds

The flight was piloted by Kit Buchannan, who isn’t a member of SUHPA but actually a pilot for another HPA at the competition. 

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