Project: Da Vinci III

The Da Vinci III, also called Leonardo III, was the first human powered helicopter to achieve liftoff. In December 1989, it reached 8 inches and 8 seconds (7.1 seconds according to some sources). The project supervisor, Dr Patterson, has a small website with photos and information on the project. The student team leader, Neal Saiki, is now an electric motor bike designer with a store in California, www.electricross.com, and was in the news recently (7/1/06). (Is he the one in the white tuxedo and bow tie?)

From Dr Patterson's website: "The First Certified Human Powered hover. The Leonardo da Vinci series of helicopters were built at CALPOLY San Luis Obispo starting in 1981 and ending in 1989. They were all 2 bladed, tip driven machines.  Leonardo I was a 50 foot radius rotor with a 30 foot per second tip speed and large cord airfoils.  Leonardo II had a radius of 50 and 70 feet and was designed for a 50 foot per minute tip speed.  Leonardo III was a 50 foot radius machine with a 50 foot per minute tip speed. It was much refined and flew for record in Dec. of 1989. The flight reached an altitude of 8 inches for a period of 8 seconds. The machine was not stabilized. Later attempts with a stabilized machine were considered but not accomplished. Most human powered flight attempts have been made with torqueless drive machine (no tail rotor). The Leonardo series are all tip driven. The other successful flight was done by The YURI from Nihon University. It used multiple rotors (4). Many coaxial systems have been tried but none have been successful. The drive system consists of a thread wrapped about the prop shaft and taken by a human driven winch.  The fly wheel, smooths out the pedaling motion. It does not store energy."

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful,...
(This may be the Da Vinci II)
Schematic and overall drawing.
The flight. Tip drive.
The drive system. Specification sheet.
Da Vinci II

2006-08-03: Don't go looking for the Da Vinci III record at the FAI website. It's not there. Neal Saiki, member of the Da Vinci III team has just informed me that back then they paid the NAA but not the FAI. So, the record is recognized by the NAA but not the FAI. Still, web access to the NAA records database is restricted to members only. Could someone please confirm that the NAA database includes the Da Vinci III record?


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