July 11, 2013 - Canadian firm AeroVelo Inc. has won the Igor I. Sikorsky Competition based on official results of the June 13, 2013, flight of its Atlas human-powered helicopter on and will be awarded the longstanding $250,000 prize for the achievement.
To win the prize, which was launched 33 years ago by AHS International, an aircraft needed to be 100 percent human-powered, remain in flight for at least 60 seconds within a 10-meter by 10-meter square, and rise to a level of 3 meters. All requirements were satisfied in last month's flight in Vaughan, Ontario, Canada.
A panel of vertical flight technical experts with the AHS International Human Powered Helicopter Competition Committee reviewed AeroVelo's design, flight testing, and data from the June 13 flight.
"The AHS Sikorsky Prize challenged the technical community to harness teamwork, technical skills, and cutting-edge technologies to meet requirements that were on the ragged edge of feasibility," said AHS International Executive Director Mark Hirschberg. "It took AeroVelo's fresh ideas, daring engineering approach, and relentless pursuit of innovation to succeed in achieving what many in vertical flight considered impossible."
AeroVelo's Atlas is larger than any other helicopter ever constructed - 190 feet wide - but weighs only 115 pounds. It is constructed of four 67-foot-wide rotors and powered by pedaling a Cervelo carbon-fiber bicycle.
Two other teams were working to achieve the Sikorsky prize, including the Gamera II Team from the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland, and California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo's Upturn II aircraft.
"I always admired AeroVelo's singular focus and rapid progress toward achieving the AHS Sikorsky Prize," said Ben Berry of the Gamera II team, which worked with AeroVelo. "They worked fast and lean, and endured huge setbacks along the way without flinching. Their approach to this challenge should be an example and inspiration for engineering students everywhere."
The AHS Igor I. Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Competition says it will soon announce another challenge; details are currently in the works.