Welcome to the RAeS Human Powered Flight Group

The Man Powered Aircraft Group of the Royal Aeronautical Society originated in 1959 when the members of the Man Powered Group of the College of Aeronautics at Cranfield were invited to become a group of the Society. Its title was changed from 'Man' to 'Human" in 1988 in recognition of the many successful flights by woman pilots. Without the generosity and enthusiastic support of the late Mr Henry Kremer, human powered flight would probably still be only a dream. By offering prizes for the various competitions which have been set, he has provided a focus for research and made possible the building of extraordinary aircraft. Over the years he has donated over £275,000 of his own money to encourage greater achievement in human powered flight.

Human Powered Flight - Towards a Practical Sport

For designers these machines offer a most exciting challenge. Ultra lightweight materials have revolutionised techniques of construction, producing aircraft with a wingspan of around 25 meters, and an all up weight of little over 30 kilograms. Where the aircraft of the 1970's were so flimsy that they could only be flown in virtually still air, the machines now being built can cope with light winds. We have reached the transitional period in human powered flight. The basic research has been done, and this next stage will lead to more practical aircraft, which can be built by a group of enthusiasts and flown as a sport. For the pilot, the human factors involved are unique, offering a challenge not found in any other branch of aviation. Control of a slow flying, lightweight aeroplane demands a high degree of skill. In addition the pilot must generate sufficient power to take off and stay airborne. As designs progress, so it has become less necessary for the pilot to be a highly trained athlete. Anyone is a potential HPA pilot. One of the ultimate aims of the Group is to promote human powered flight as an Olympic sport.

In This Section

  • Events

    Details on forthcoming RAeS Human Powered Conferences, Lectures & Seminars

  • Committee

  • Contact Us

    Want to get in touch or join the Human Powered Mailing List?

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April 2014


  • 28 Apr
    HQ Lecture

    Aerodynamics Group Lecture: Train Aerodynamics

    This Aerodynamics Group Lecture will highlight the findings from a survey paper on railway train aerodynamics by Prof. Chris Baker of Birmingham University.

  • 29 Apr
    Named Lecture

    Handley Page Lecture 2014

    Established in 1963, this Named Lecture is run alternately with Cranfield. It honours Sir Frederick Handley Page CBE, HonFRAeS, in recognition of his many contributions to aviation, and in particular to safety and reliability in air transportation. After WW2 he was instrumental in setting up the College of Aeronautics at Cranfield, where he was a Governor up to the time of his death.

  • 30 Apr
    Society Event

    Education and Skills Seminar

    The ESC invites interested parties to join a special seminar at RAeS HQ on Wednesday 30 April 2014 which will see the launch of the committee’s new Work Programme. At the RAeS inaugural Education and Skills Conference there was a wide recognition of the shortage, both current and forecast, of sufficient personnel with the right skills, and of the need to build more effective links between the education sector (universities, colleges, and schools) and the aviation and aerospace industries. Th