Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Olympic Human Powered Flight

Human Powered Flight Undergoes Renaissance With Olympic Competition
  (+23, -2)(+23, -2)(+23, -2)
(+23, -2)
  [vote for,

Using the pioneering example of the Gossamer Condor, the new olympic sport of human powered flight is introduced combining engineering excellence with human endurance. If the sport catches on it could end the daily traffic jams on the way to the office and reduce America's problems with obesity.
digitalwarrior03, Mar 26 2006

The Bognor Birdman competition http://www.birdman.org.uk/
Not exactly Olympic, but fun nonetheless [wagster, Mar 27 2006]

Baked. http://images.amazo...01._SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg
Well, when I say baked... I don't necessarily mean that this has the unanimous backing of the Interational Olympic Committee... [Jinbish, Mar 28 2006]


       just dont fly to close to the sun. if I could fly my own airplane like that, I would drop quaters off it and see what happens.
madfishsam, Mar 26 2006

       Excellent idea, though if it did catch on, the ground traffic might get much worse, given the much larger footprint of such a Flying Contraption than a car. Plus the massive runways required to get them up to takeoff speed.   

       Still, for the image of an obese person taxiing furiously down the road until they sweat themselves down to takeoff weight, and then soaring majestically into the skies, powered by their newly-trim legs, have an aerodynamically efficient croissant.
friendlyfire, Mar 26 2006

       One could think of a special sub-discipline: obese people weighing over 300 pounds are put in a human powered airplane that the average 150 pound person can fly. The race is on: the first 300+ pounder who succeeds in getting off the ground wins gold. This event streches over the entire 3 week period of the Olympics.   

       [Ooops: what friendlyfire said].
django, Mar 26 2006

       Well, the physics of human flight are against you. The one human flight I can think of involved a 90+ foot wingspan and constant pedaling to barely fly above the surface.   

       Humans weigh too much and don't put out enough energy. Take a good look at a bird sometime, they're extremely lightweight and have strong thin muscles.   

       The sport would be boring. Huge glider-like planes pedaled by people starving themselves to be able to get any decent speeds.
lowbot, Mar 27 2006

       Boring? No way. I’d love to see engineering as part of the games. For example, I love ski jumping, but what we see is highly regulated equipment and judging based on a standardized form as much as on distance. It would be much more interesting to allow more freedom in equipment design and jumping form and base the decision on distance only. Contestants could unveil their ‘secret weapons’ at jump time.   

       As for HPF, these contests exist, but I’m all for having them as Olympic events. It opens up a new source of R&D funding: sponsorship.
Shz, Mar 27 2006

       Boring? More so than most Olympic events?
wagster, Mar 27 2006

       Likewise, it would be interesting to see the cycling events allow any vehicle which is entirely human powered (and conforms to width and length constraints). Arguably, the insistence of competitive cycling bodies on bicycles that look like what they think bicycles ought to look like has held back advances in bicyle design. This conservatism may also hinder the more mass-market adoption of innovative designs like reumbent bicycles.
hippo, Mar 27 2006

       [lowbot] I don't find anything boring about skinny athletes pedaling like mad to keep their head above water while competing for a gold medal. Probably just a little more exciting than Olympic curling!   

       There hasn't just been one human powered flight either, there has been several covering some fairly long distances (english channel, crete to santorini 118km, etc.) They might need a big wingspan but that's just more room for your sponsors logo or your nations colors.
digitalwarrior03, Mar 27 2006

       Do the human-powered planes convert human power directly into mechanical motion, or is it stored in a battery and then used to power a motor? My wild guess is the former, which makes me wonder (if that is the case) if the extra weight of a generator+battery+motor would negate the benefits of charging up for a few minutes before takeoff.   

       I think I've read that humans can produce about 100 watts continuously, with peaks of 400 watts or more. This isn't much less than many ultralight planes.   

       So after the starting pistol fires, everyone could sit in place for a few minutes and pedal furiously to charge up before takeoff. Part of the strategy would be to produce just enough electricity to make it the distance without any wasted time and effort.   

       I like the idea of an Olympic sport. With the right outfits, it might even rank up there with figure skating.
DarkEnergy, Mar 27 2006

       As far as outfits go, I think the women would have to be next to nude due to weight limitations. :)
digitalwarrior03, Mar 27 2006

       //humans can produce about 100 watts continuously, with peaks of 400 watts or more// That may be so on average, but for a trained cyclist those stats are quite low. I'm at 300 watts continuous / over 900 peak with moderate training. Lance Armstrong somehow manages 500 continuous. It's probably safe to say Olympic cyclists can maintain at least 400 watts.
Shz, Mar 27 2006

       I would fishbone my previous anno if I could. I was confusing cc with watts for ultralight engines. 400 watts are still pretty impressive for mere mortals.
DarkEnergy, Mar 28 2006

       You can't fishbone it, but you could just edit and fix it...
jutta, Mar 28 2006

       It's an interesting idea, but I'm not sure it would make a good Olympic event. Shirley the olympics are about the human body and its limits - standardized equipment is used as much as poss to keep the focus on the athletes and what they can do.   

       [+] for the idea of racing human powered planes; normal planes are raced around pylons somewhere (can't remember - Santorini? Not sure if that's even a place) - maybe that could be used as a blueprint.
[-] for unsuitability as olympic event.
moomintroll, Mar 29 2006

       //If the sport catches on it could end the daily traffic jams on the way to the office// I think this statement is one of those "halves" in the halfbakery.
zigness, Mar 29 2006


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