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MIT Daedalus

MIT Daedalus

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT has five schools and one college, containing a total of 32 academic departments, with a strong emphasis on scientific and technological education and research.Founded in 1861 in...

 Aeronautics and Astronautics Department's Daedalus was a human-powered aircraft
Human-powered aircraft
A human-powered aircraft is an aircraft powered by direct human energy and the force of gravity; the thrust provided by the human may be the only source; however, a hang glider that is partially powered by pilot power is a human-powered aircraft where the flight path can be enhanced more than if...

 that, on 23 April 1988, flew a distance of 71.5 mi (115.11 km) in 3 hours, 54 minutes, from Iraklion on the island of Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

 to the island of Santorini
Santorini , officially Thira , is an island located in the southern Aegean Sea, about southeast from Greece's mainland. It is the largest island of a small, circular archipelago which bears the same name and is the remnant of a volcanic caldera...

. The flight holds official FAI
Fédération Aéronautique Internationale
The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale is the world governing body for air sports and aeronautics and astronautics world records. Its head office is in Lausanne, Switzerland. This includes man-carrying aerospace vehicles from balloons to spacecraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles...

 world records for distance and duration for human-powered aircraft.

The craft was named after the mythological inventor of aviation, Daedalus
In Greek mythology, Daedalus was a skillful craftsman and artisan.-Family:...

, and was inspired by the myth of Daedalus' escape from Crete using manmade wings.

There were actually three aircraft constructed:
  • Light Eagle (originally Michelob Light Eagle): a 42 kg (92 lb) prototype.
  • Daedalus 87: Crashed during testing at Rogers Dry Lake
    Rogers Dry Lake
    Rogers Dry Lake is an endorheic desert salt pan in the Mojave Desert of Kern County, California. The lake derives its name from the Anglicization from the Spanish name, Rodriguez Dry Lake. It is the central part of Edwards Air Force Base as its hard surface provides a natural extension to the...

     (NASA Dryden Flight Research Center) on 17 February 1988, and was rebuilt as a backup.
  • Daedalus 88: Flew from Crete to just off the beach on Santorini.

Both Daedalus 87 and 88 weighed 31 kg (69 lb).

All three aircraft were constructed at the MIT Lincoln Lab Flight Facility at Hanscom Field outside Boston, Massachusetts, by a team of undergraduate students, faculty, and recent graduates of MIT.

Light Eagle

Light Eagle (known to the flight crew as "MLE", or "Emily") set a closed-course distance record with Glen Tremml as the pilot, as well as straight-line, closed-course, and duration women's records with Lois McCallin as pilot. These record flights took place at Edwards AFB (NASA Dryden Flight Research Center) in January, 1987.

Light Eagle had been in storage in Manassas
Manassas, Virginia
The City of Manassas is an independent city surrounded by Prince William County and the independent city of Manassas Park in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. Its population was 37,821 as of 2010. Manassas also surrounds the county seat for Prince William County but that county...

, VA
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, but in 2009 was restored and adapted for use as an unmanned solar-powered aircraft testbed by Aurora Flight Sciences.

Daedalus 87

Daedalus 87 was the first of the two Daedalus airplanes constructed, and was flight tested extensively at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center in California. During flight testing, Daedalus 87 was damaged in a crash caused by spiral divergence, with the rudder not able to supply enough control authority to recover from a disturbance-initiated right turn. The aircraft suffered damage to the right wing, fuselage, and propeller. Daedalus 87 was repaired and returned to service to act as a backup airplane to the Daedalus 88.

Daedalus 87 was on display in the lobby at the Museum of Science, Boston
Museum of Science, Boston
The Museum of Science is a Boston, Massachusetts landmark, located in Science Park, a plot of land spanning the Charles River. Along with over 500 interactive exhibits, the Museum features a number of live presentations throughout the building every day, along with shows at the Charles Hayden...

 until fall of 2009, and is now on display above the tram stop for Terminal B at Dulles Airport outside Washington, DC.

Daedalus 88

The record-setting flight of Daedalus 88 had as pilot Olympic cyclist Kanellos Kanellopoulos of Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

. The flight began at the main airport of Iraklion, on Crete, with a horizontal launch under the pilot's own power, as governed by FAI rules. During the flight, the Daedalus flew primarily between 15 and 30 feet in altitude, and was accompanied by several escort vessels. The speed of the flight was helped by a tailwind, but this also made a head-on landing approach to the narrow beach hazardous, especially with crowds of spectators on the sand. The pilot maneuvered the aircraft to land more into the wind and parallel with the length of the beach. As the right wing extended over the black sand beach, the heat rising from the beach lifted that wing, turning the aircraft back towards the sea. This effect prevented the pilot from getting the whole aircraft onto the beach.

The flight ended in the water (7 meters from Perissa Beach on Santorini, according to the official record), when increasing gusty winds caused a torsional failure of the tail boom. Lacking control, the airplane then pitched nose-up, and another gust caused a failure of the main wing spar. The pilot swam to shore.

Much of the wreckage of Daedalus 88 is in storage at the Smithsonian's Garber
Paul E. Garber
Paul Edward Garber was the first head of the National Air Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. With his work and effort, the most complete collection of historical aircraft in the world was gathered and preserved...

 Restoration Facility
Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and Storage Facility
The Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and Storage Facility is located in Suitland, Maryland, USA. The facility, also nicknamed "Silver Hill", is where the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum restores aircraft, spacecraft, and other artifacts.It is named in honor of...