"For his combination of high-flying gossamer vision and down-to-earth engineering skill which made the ancient dream of human powered flight come true, and for his contemporary imagination in recreating the ancient pterodactyl, Quetzalcoatl’s Northropi."
Dreams will only be dreams unless you develop them into reality, which is what Paul MacCready has done with his Gossamer Condor and Gossamer Albatross, each winning international awards for human-powered flight records.
Dr. Paul MacCready graduated with B.S. and M.S. degrees in Physics from Yale and Cal Tech, and his PhD in Aeronautics from Cal Tech in 1952.
In 1977, the Gossamer Condor won the 50,000 pound award offered by British Industrialist Henry Kremer for the first sustained controlled, human-powered flight. Two years later, its successor, the Gossamer Albatross, received aviation’s greatest prize, the 100,000 pound Kremer award for the human-powered flight from England to France. The climax of his pioneering in solar powered aircraft was reached in 1981 when his Solar Challenger carried a pilot 163 miles from Paris to England at an altitude of 11,000 feet. MacCready’s latest achievement is the development of a full size flying replica of the 36 foot wingspan pterodactyl, a creature from 70 million years ago.
The Gossamer Condor now occupies a place of honor in the Smithsonian Institute’s National Air and Space Museum. The Gossamer Albatross is in the London Science Museum.
MacCready’s awards begin with the Collier Trophy in 1979 for the greatest achievement in aeronautics and astronautics by construction of the Gossamer Condor. This was followed by the Engineer of the Century, presented in 1980 by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, then the Lindbergh Award for “his significant contributions toward creating a better balance between technological growth and preservation of the natural environment.”
The founder and former chairman of the board of directors of AeroVironment, Inc. died August 28, 2007, less than one week after the 30th anniversary of one of his most notable accomplishments, the record-setting flight of his human powered airplane, the Gossamer Condor.