1, 2: Gossamer Condor/Albatross
Paul MacCready becomes the "father of human-powered flight" when his 70-pound Gossamer Condor completes the first sustained, controlled human-powered flight. Two years later, his team flies the Gossamer Albatross, which has a 96-foot wingspan and is built mostly of plastic and carbon fiber, across the English Channel. That flight, made by cyclist Bryan Allen, takes a stately three hours to accomplish, though it covers only 23 miles.
3: Solar Challenger
With DuPont sponsorship, the Solar Challenger—the world's first piloted solar-powered aircraft—
flies 163 miles from Paris to the coastline of England, at an altitude of 11,000 feet. Photovoltaic cells and DuPont's lightweight materials pave the way for a generation of solar-powered vehicles.
Partnering with GM, AeroVironment's Sunraycer wins a 1,867-mile race across Australia, averaging 41.6 mph and beating the field of 24 solar-powered vehicles by two days. This leads to the development of the first production
electric vehicle, GM's EV-1.
A mechanical version of the prehistoric creature, this craft has a sophisticated autopilot and flaps its wings. It stars
in a 1986 IMAX film, On the Wing.
The solar-powered high-altitude Helios research aircraft is a significant leap toward the goal of non-polluting flights in the stratosphere. Helios could serve as a semipermanent 11-mile-high "sky tower" capable of multichannel wideband communications.
The 10-pound Pointer becomes the first unmanned aerial vehicle to be wielded by front-line military units as a remote monitoring and surveillance tool. The aircraft transmits real-time video to the pilot and other observers on the ground. Other applications considered for Pointer include air pollution sensing and chemical weapons detection.
The incredible innovations, like drone swarms and perpetual flight, bringing aviation into the world of tomorrow. Plus: today's greatest sci-fi writers predict the future, the science behind the summer's biggest blockbusters, a Doctor Who-themed DIY 'bot, the organs you can do without, and much more.