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This page was last updated: 5 Aug 2001

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bird powered birds
Next flights 1999
Human Power Festival in Interlaken Switzerland 1999
High Altitude Long Endurance Aircraft
events 2000
events 2001

This is human powered flight:

V89 @ MUC summer 1990. Photo: Britta Bartsch-Frank Vélair 89 was the first aircraft to fly "from" Munich airport (MUC) runway in the summer of 1990

V89 @ MUC summer 1990. Photo: Britta Bartsch-Frank

V88 in Malmsheim. Photo: Ben Russ This was Vélair 88 during a flight in Malmsheim near Stuttgart. Notice the old (stiffer) wing and rudder, and the video camera on top of the fuselage.


This aircraft is designed for minimum required power to allow for some endurance. It's size is quite small resulting in a relatively "high" flight speed. For that reason its wing is cantilevered (no wires or struts) because their drag would not be compensated by the lower weight. The power required with a 60 kg pilot is about 225 Watt. It is capable of normal take off and landing on a hard runway.

Vélair  was built in the original version '88' and improved during the following year, the "89" version, mainly with a new wing (larger, higher aspect ratio, lighter, thinner, nicer, cheaper, lower drag...  :-))

Version Vélair 88 Vélair 89
first flight 9 August 1988 24 September 1989
its wing was later recycled for the Icaré 1  solar powered aircraft of Stuttgart University
wing platform
number of segments
double trapeze
3 pieces
5 pieces
seat position recumbent 40 ° "
controls 3-function cardan sidestick (on the RH side) "
roll control (electric) aileron rotating wing tip
yaw control push rods & cable, all flying rudder "
pitch control push rods & cable with "bungee" trim, all flying elevator "
Wing span 71.2 ft (21.7 m) 76.1 (23.2 m)
Wing area 176.5 sqft (16.4 m²) 183 sqft (17 m²)
Aspect ratio 27 31.7
Empty weight 83.6 lbs (37.9 kg) 67.2 lbs (30.5 kg)
Max take off weight 220 lbs (100 kg) 220 lbs (100 kg)
Power loading 396 kg/kW (!!!) 
Wing loading 25.9 lbs/sqft (5.3 kg/m² )
Wing weight 52.5 lbs (23.8 kg ) 36.8 lbs (16.7 kg )
prop diameter 
prop speed
number of blades
8.9 ft (2.70 m)
190 rpm
2 blades
carbon shell with web
ground adjustable pitch
power transmission twisted chain +
carbon driveshaft
Fuselage carbon sandwich space frame with Polystyrol/GFRP sandwich fairing
wing spar I-beam spar: CFRP (T300/HYE 1048) caps, GFRP/Rohacell sandwich web tailored CFRP (T800/M10) tube spar
wing shell GFRP/Polystyrol sandwich Polystyrol
wing ribs Styrodur with carbon caps Styrofoam with balsa caps
wing cover - Hostaphan
wing airfoil (thickness) FX 63-137 (13.7%) PF 25 (12.9%)
ultimate load factor 3.0 g 3.36 g (ultimate load, tested) 
design speed 17 KEAS (31 km/h, 8.6 m/s)
stall speed 15 KEAS (27 km/h; 7.5 m/s)
max horizontal speed (power limited 0.4 HP) 22 KEAS (41 km/h; 11.4 m/s)
never exceed speed (torsional divergence limited) 27 KEAS (51 km/h; 14.2 m/s)
design power 3.75 Watt/kg pilot weight) (225 W) @ 90kg gross weight)
Take off distance (198 lbs/90kg, ISA, no wind) ~260 ft (~80 m)
Rate of climb @ 0.4 HP (300 W) climb power  20 ft/min (0.1 m/s) well...

Thanks to the team

There was a lot of help from many friends. Special thanks to those who went all the way through: Ben Russ, Martin Hübner, Jochen Hanne who spent so many nights and weekends in the workshop, their contribution is invaluable.

Thanks to our sponsors

Many companies and institutions contributed to the project:
Atari with a great computer and OS, in alliance with Frank Ostrowski's GFA, this combination was an extremely powerfull tool. It allowed fast, efficient and fuzz free software development to answer those many design and performance questions (which became the core of a complete aircraft design and performance package).

Also thanks to F.J.Arendts, R.Eppler and E. Messerschmid from University of Stuttgart for their logistic (workshop), scientific and morale support.

Also biggest gratitude to the industry for giving this and that:
Bakelite (resins), Beiersdorf (adhesive films), Blaschke Aeolite pedals, Daimler Benz (fuselage 3-D panel calculations, test field), Eurocomposites (honeycombs), Fiberite (carbon prepregs), Gaugler & Lutz (Airex thermoplast foam), Kalle/Höchst (Hostafan film), INA Schäffler (metallic bearings), Grünzweig & Hartmann (Styrodur foam), MBB / Donauwörth (autoclave run), Mutliplex (aileron control servos), Röhm (Rohacell), Velotraum (cycling shoes), Brodbeck (seal tape), DLR (water jet cutting machine), Roland Schirrmacher (prop mold), Martin Siegwarth & Thorn Richter (flight data aquisition system & sensors), MBB Manching, airport München, aeroport de Paris (runways), Polaroid (ultrasonic altimeter), university of Stuttgart (workshop, metallic parts).

Frequently asked questions

Next flight 1999

If I don't brake it during training and checkflights, if weather is benign, and if traffic authorities clear my prehistoric trailor (TÜV), the next public flights are scheduled for the Human Power Festival in Interlaken Switzerland 14... 22 August 1999.
It will be a big suspense because the last flights were performed a long time ago. The aircraft and the pilot are 10 years older now what certainly does not contribute to the performance of both. The aircraft got some more dents, not only from a few landings in the potato fields but also from so many expositions, the cover got many ribbles, and our cats loved it as a tree substitute while it was stored in our living room. Fortunately there is extra wide "TESA" (sticky tape) to quickly fix but clearly at the expense of aesthetics. It really has to be considered as a vintage plane now. And the pilot is now carrying an extra 10 kg of "reserve fuel" (fat).
We will see...

Human power festival in Interlaken Switzerland

...We saw: in spite of its design life of one summer Vélair still flies (and is still in one piece !).

Foto: Sebastian Kummer

Flight in Interlaken. Photo: Chris Roper
Foto: Sebastian Kummer

At the Interlaken Human Power Festival August 1999.

Events 2000

Events 2001

Demo flights can be booked now. Minimum requirement is a hard 700 x 10 m runway. The longer the better. Flights scheduled to start in June 2001.


From other autors:

My flight experience with HPA's:

(nono, I crashed only very few of them !)

Aircraft built by country configuration (all conventional tail) year
Pelargos II Max Horlacher CH 27m, multiwire rectangular higfh wing, tractor prop 1983
Pelargos III Max Horlacher CH 22m, singlewire and strut rectangular wing, tractor prop 1985
Musculair 2 GünterRochelt D 19.5m cantilever trapeze wing, pusher prop 1985...1986
Vélair 88 Peer Frank D 21.7m cantilever double trapeze wing, pusher prop 1988-89
Vélair 89 Peer Frank D 23.2m cantilever rectangular/trapeze wing, pusher prop since 1989
Airglow John McIntyre UK 25m single wire trapeze wing, pusher concentric prop 1992

For more information about human powered vehicles (land/water/air/rail) see: International Human Powered Vehicle Association
HPV Deutschland, der Club f�r innovative Fortbewegung