Country’s first human-powered flying device lifts off in Shanghai
By Jin Zhu
A 42-kilogram flying machine “Mozi,” China’s first human-powered aircraft, had a successful test flight, Shanghai OXAI Aircraft Company announced on Al 7.
Mao Yiqing, the aircraft’s 46-year-old designer, pedaled the vehicle to soar 126 meters in 20 seconds at 2.8 meters off the ground in Shanghai’s suburban Fengxian district, OXAI announced at its press conference.
Mozi has a 27.4-meter wingspan and a rudder for steering. It can carry one person who weighs less than 65 kilograms. When sitting in the fuselage, the pilot must pedal furiously as if riding a bicycle.
“The design only looks simple. Actually, the manufacturing technology is so complicated that only a few countries have managed it, including the US, Britain, Germany and Japan,” Mo said.
Mao said since the manpowered aircraft was completely driven by pedaling, its materials and construction were vital. “Every piece of equipment was carefully calibrated and tested before finally being used in construction,” he said.
Mao was infatuated with model airplanes since childhood and always dreamed of being a pilot. Four years ago, he invested all his money to open the Shanghai OXAI Aircraft Company, which developed Mozi.
He and his colleagues are studying data gathered from Mozi’s first flight to refine its design.
“Currently, a human-powered aircraft has no commercial value, but the technical details and experience ae useful for developing a solar-powered aircraft, which would be much more useful,” Mao said.
However, he was disappointed by the city’s limited venues for test flights. “I searched everywhere using Google Maps before the flight test, and Fengxian was the only suitable area in the city,” he said.
Mao said if there was more space, his flight could have been as high as 15 meters off the ground.
“At present, there is a strict limitation on flight space in China. Since the country has appointed certain altitudes for private flying machines, it is unrealistic to plan on flying randomly throughout the city,” Sun Weihong, a professional on the manufacture of flying machine in Shanghai Association of Inventions, said.
The company will launch another flight in June. “We submitted a flight application to the Air Traffic Management Bureau of East China and expect it to be better than the last one,” Mao said.