Skeptics may say that if God had wanted man to fly like this, he would have been born with pedals. Not even Pasadena, Calif. designer Paul Mac-ready is exactly enthusiastic about his new manpowered flying machine. “It’s not practical,” he says. “But it’s not completely impractical, either.”
For Macready, the “Gossamer Condor,” powered by a pilot pumping bicycle pedals, may be practical enough to be worth $86,000. That is the unclaimed prize offered since 1959 by Henry Kremer, a British industrialist and flying enthusiast, to the first man-propelled craft to fly his one-mile, figure-eight course and maintain a 10-foot altitude at the start and finish. Last month Macready’s craft, pedal-piloted by Bryan Allen, completed the course. They now await official validation.
An aeronautical engineer, Macready, 51, has worked with aircraft since he was a teenager. He began the Gossamer Condor last year, and it ended up weighing 70 pounds, with a 96-foot wing span. It can go about 10 miles per hour. (Macready estimates a strong pilot could fly for 40 minutes.)
Condor’s success, Macready admits, “makes others happier than it makes me.” The others are those who supplied the $30,000 in labor and material to build the Condor and some miscellaneous old creditors; combined, they will account for that $86,000.