MIT Daedalus

The MIT Daedalus was a human-powered aircraft which, on 23 April, 1988 flew 74 mi (119 km) from Iraklion Air Force Base on Crete, crashing in the ocean just short of the island of Santorini in 3 hours, 54 minutes. Despite the fact that the aircraft crashed short of its goal, some people consider this flight to have set a distance record which stands to this day. The craft was named after the mythological character Daedalus.


Daedalus in flight.

There were actually three aircraft constructed:

  • Light Eagle (originally Michelob Light Eagle): a 92 lb (42 kg) prototype.
  • Daedalus 87: Crashed on Rogers Dry Lakebed on 17 February 1988, and was rebuilt as a backup.
  • Daedalus 88: Flew from Crete to Santorini.

Both Daedalus 87 and 88 weighed 69 lb (31 kg).

Light Eagle (known to the flight crew as "MLE", or "Emily") set a closed-course distance record with Glen Tremml as the pilot, as well as straight-line, closed-course, and duration women's records with Lois McCallin as pilot. These record flights took place at Edwards AFB in January, 1987.

The record-setting flight of Daedalus 88 had Kanellos Kanellopoulos as pilot. The flight ended in the water (7 meters from Perissa Beach on Santorini, according to the official record), when increasing gusty winds caused a torsional failure of the tail boom. Lacking control, the airplane then pitched nose-up, and another gust caused a failure of the main wing spar. The pilot swam to shore. The wreckage of Daedalus 88 is believed to be in storage at the Smithsonian, along with the Light Eagle.

Daedalus 87 is on display in the lobby at the Museum of Science, Boston.

Specifications (Daedalus 88)

General Characteristics

  • Crew: one, pilot
  • Length: 28 ft 2 in (8.6 m)
  • Wingspan: 111 ft 6 in (34 m)
  • Height: ft in ( m)
  • Wing area: 322.8 ft² (29.98 m²)
  • Empty: 70 lb (32 kg)
  • Loaded: 229 lb (104 kg)
  • Powerplant: pilot

References/External Links

Dorsey, Gary (1990). The Fullness of Wings: The Making Of A New Daedalus ISBN 0-670-82444-5

NASA's page about Daedalus


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