Today in History – August 23, 1977 – Gossamer Condor achieves first human powered flight around a figure eight. This team effort, under the leadership of Paul B. MacCready, Jr., won the $50,000 Kremer Prize and captured the world’s attention. Bryan Allen maintained a head-height during the 7 1/2 minute figure eight flight.
British millionaire Henry Kremer and the Royal Aeronautical Society offered the Kremer Prize to the “designer who could create a human-powered flying machine”. After 18 years of no winners, MacCready’s Gossamer Condor made history in 1977 when it became the first human-powered vehicle to achieve a sustained flight, performing a complex maneuver.
The Gossamer Condor is now on display at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. MacCready went on to win a number of other flight firsts and also developed the solar-powered Sunraycer that competed in a race across Australia. His 1990 electric car, built in collaboration with General Motors, resulted in the Impact electric car that could accelerate from zero to 60 mph in eight seconds.