Gossamer Condor - The First Of Its Kind

August 19, 2020

A human-powered airplane built by Dr. Paul MacCready, Jr.

Dr. Paul MacCready, Jr., had an unorthodox approach to aviation design, one that paid high dividends throughout his lifetime. His philosophy was to design and build for quick iteration, and he is quoted as saying, “Find a faster way to fail, recover, and try again.” That methodology certainly worked for the design of the Gossamer Condor, the first successful human-powered aircraft.

In 1959, British industrialist Henry Kremer put out a challenge to build a human-powered airplane and attached a substantial monetary prize for the winner. For 18 years, nobody could do it. Dr. MacCready was up for the challenge. Only six months after attempting his aircraft design, a pilot successfully flew the Gossamer Condor. The difference? While others needed a year’s worth of effort for each test flight, Dr. MacCready created a plane that he could fly, fix, and fly again in just a few hours.


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