The Igor I. Sikorsky prize is quite the prestigious award. It was started 33 years ago by the American Helicopter Society (AHS) and promised $250 000 to the person who fulfilled the requirements for the prize. The requirements, you ask? Oh nothing much. In order to claim the prize money a helicopter powered solely by human movement was required to be built. As Geek.com puts it, the vehicle has to be able to “maintain an altitude of no less than 3 meters for at least 60 seconds while remaining inside a ten meter square”
After a long 33 years, someone has actually finally claimed the Sikorsky prize. Just a few days ago on the 11th of July AeroVelo — a team recognized for their engineering skills and of Kickstarter fame — fulfilled all of the requirements to claim the prize under the supervision of AHS officials.
The enormous Kickstarter funded contraption which was used to complete the challenge was designed along the lines of the now popular quad-rotor helicopter drones. The quad-rotor design was chosen to maximize stability and allowed the team to narrowly grasp the prize — drifting 9.8 meters within the 10 meter regulation zone. It was only after multiple failed attempts that the prize was claimed however and it was done in a rather heart-wrenching fashion, right at the end of the time stipulated for the flight to be carried out in. Success was to belong to AeroVelo on that day however and the team is now $250 000 richer.
Check out the video of the flight executed by team co-founder Todd Reichert below.