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Happy Anniversary

Today marks the 40th anniversary of human-powered flight. On August 23, 1977, pilot Bryan Allen flew the Gossamer Condor (well, it seems he rather pedaled it) a momentous 7 minutes and 27.5 seconds over Shafter, California.The 24-year-old pilot was a well-conditioned bicycle racer. And the pedals ...

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Today marks the 40th anniversary of human-powered flight. On August 23, 1977, pilot Bryan Allen flew the Gossamer Condor (well, it seems he rather pedaled it) a momentous 7 minutes and 27.5 seconds over Shafter, California.


The 24-year-old pilot was a well-conditioned bicycle racer. And the pedals drove a bicycle chain that turned a propeller. The contraption, which has a 96-foot wingspan and is made mostly out of Mylar, cardboard and Styrofoam, traveled a total of 1.35 miles and won a $14,000 prize for its Pasedena designers Paul MacCready and Peter Lissaman.

The Gossamer Condor now hangs out with the Wright Brother's first airplane and the Apollo 11 space capsule at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum.

(Courtesy of Eric Long)
About Beth Py-Lieberman
Beth Py-Lieberman

Beth Py-Lieberman is the museums editor, covering exhibitions, events and happenings at the Smithsonian Institution. She has been a member of the Smithsonian team for more than two decades.

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