Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Old Man MacCready

Paul MacCready is a very very interesting man. Intelligent and creative he has won countless awards.

He was an inventor, most know for his flying machines. He designed a plane that was bike powered plane, the Gossamer Albatross, that flew 22 miles across the English Channel in 1979. In 1981 the Solar Challenger, flew 163 miles on 400 watts from photovoltaics. His solar powered car, the Sunraycer, crossed 2,000 miles of Australian desert. (This was part of the inspiration for the EV1, GM's fully electric car.

In 1990, he and his team designed the Helios (youtube video). The Helios has about 62,000 solar cells across the wing. The solar cells collect energy from the Sun and convert it to electricity, which runs the 14 small motors, which turn the 14 propellers.

"On August 13, 2001, remote-control pilots on the ground used a computer to fly the Helios Prototype to an altitude of 96,863 feet. That's over 18 miles straight up! Before the Helios Prototype, the highest recorded flight of any aircraft was about 85,000 feet. This was done in 1976 by the SR-71 spy plane, the fastest jet in the world. Only rockets and rocket-powered airplanes have gone higher."

Paul gave this speech at TED a few months before he passed away.
Video-21minutes(very cool)


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