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Bryan Allen flying the Gossamer Albatross over the English ChannelGossamer Albatross

On June 12, 1979, champion bicyclist Bryan Allen completed the first human-powered flight across the English Channel.

Allen achieved his feat with the Gossamer Albatross, a pedal-powered airplane built by Dr. Paul B. MacCready's AeroVironment. Constructed of carbon fiber and mylar, the plane only weighed 71 pounds (Allen weighed about 145 pounds). With a wingspan of 97.7 feet, it was wider than a DC-9. Allen had to fight a head wind much of the way and his battery-powered instruments failed during the flight, but he still covered the 22 miles from Dover, England, to Cape Gris-Nez, France, in 2 hours 49 minutes.

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

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This page was last updated on August 08, 2016.

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