After two heartbreaking crashes and over a year of hard work, U of T’s alumni team AeroVelo, led by Dr. Todd Reichert and Cameron Robertson, was officially declared the winner of the American Helicopter Society (AHS)’s Igor I. Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Competition. The team’s victory, on July 11, 2013, came 33 years after the prize was first established. The winning flight, completed at the Ontario Soccer Centre in Vaughan, lasted 64 seconds and reached a maximum altitude of 3.3 meters. A loud roar of excitement could be heard as the ­Atlas, the largest operational human-powered helicopter ever constructed, successfully touched down.

The incredible feat adds to AeroVelo’s impressive list of accomplishments, which include the world’s first human-powered Ornithopter (an aircraft with flapping wings) and the fastest college-built bicycle. AeroVelo promotes the idea that engineering can provide innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing environmental problems, and the team plans to continue its exciting work in human-powered vehicle design. Meanwhile, the AHS has announced that it will be unveiling a new competition as soon as the details are worked out. As stated in the official AHS press release, “AeroVelo’s win is not the end, but the beginning.”

Read about AeroVelo’s efforts to win the Sikorsky prize here.

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