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The University of Southampton

Human powered aircraft project to feature on Channel 4

Published: 8 January 2014

A team of Engineering staff and students will feature in this week’s episode of Channel 4’s new series ‘Speed with Guy Martin’ on Sunday at 8pm.

In the third episode of the four-part series, motorcycle racer and lorry mechanic Guy Martin wants to build the world's fastest human powered aircraft (HPA) - a plane without an engine that he will cycle into the air.

Thanks to our history and prestige of HPA endeavours - on 9 November 1961, Southampton student Derek Piggot became the first man to fly under his own power in SUMPAC (Southampton University Man Powered Aircraft) - Guy came to the University to help build a plane from scratch and equip him with the skill, power and endurance to pilot it. The plane is put to the test in the Icarus Cup, where Guy sets out to pilot the fastest HPA the world has ever seen.

Dr Alex Forrester, Senior Lecturer in Computational Engineering, says: "Working with Guy was great fun. He's an inspiration to many, including me and the team of students. We implemented many new technologies, including the wing structure and propeller design, so it was a superb learning experience for all involved."

Tune in to Channel 4 at 8pm on Sunday to see if Guy gets off the ground. If you miss the programme, you can read about the project in the accompanying book to the series.

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