Sheffield students hoping to power themselves into the skies

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A TEAM of Sheffield University students are planning to take to the skies – in their own human-powered aircraft.

Design work for their creation is now in its final stages and the manufacturing process is due to start once the exam season is over.

The target is to take part in the prestigious Icarus Cup run by the Royal Aeronautical Society in July, where a range of similar aircraft will do battle.

Team members include undergraduate and post-graduate engineering students – all members of the university society Simurq Aeronautics, and many have flying experience.

Student Chloe Lee said it was a first for such a project to be launched without the backing of professional guidance or guaranteed financial help from companies or organisations.

She said: “For example MIT in the United States is known for building great human-powered aircraft, but they have huge organisations such as NASA involved.

“We think our team is unique – we have two glider pilots and two who hold private pilot licences.

“We plan to start test flights in mid-March at several local gliding clubs before the first competition.”

Team leader Ramon Fuentes said there had been many attempts to build efficient human-powered aircraft over the last 50 years.

He said: “We gathered together for the love of engineering and the challenges this project brings.

“Our long-term aim is to have an entry in the Kremer Prize which awards between £50,000 and £100,000 to any group or individual that can build a human-powered aircraft capable of performing certain tasks.”