"Birdman" Dream in Skies over Lake BiwaRally Ambitions of Students from Kyoto and Shiga Prefectures
Students from Kyoto and Shiga Prefectures will participate in the "40th Birdman Rally," a human-powered aircraft competition, which will be held at the end of this month on the shores of Lake Biwa in Hikone City, Shiga Prefecture. At the University of Shiga Prefecture, Hikone City, students have revived a once-inactive team to challenge flying in the competition of which they have had dreams, saying, "We want to fly in the sky in an aircraft that we designed ourselves."
Members gathered for the first time in seven years
Keita Egoshi is the captain of Usp Airplane fabricate group, at the University of Shiga Prefecture. The group will participate for the first time in seven years in the Glider category, in which aircraft without propellers compete. He chose to enter the university to "participate in the Birdman Rally" as it is located near the competition site. However, when he entered the university, the group had not been manufacturing any airframes. Nor were there any active group members in the same year as Egoshi. Unable to fly a plane alone, he worked hard to recruit members.
A year ago, Kana Ukai, who is the same department as Egoshi, joined the group and became the vice-captain. Three other members joined last fall and this spring. They visited other universities which had competed in the rally to increase their know-how. Wanting to make "an aircraft of unusual shape," they have devised an airframe with "joined wings," in which the main wings and tail are connected.
The aircraft's name, "Hekitei" is the nickname of little grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis), Shiga's prefectural bird, in order to promote the team's home ground advantage. Their goal is to fly more than 200 meters. In anticipation of the actual rally, Egoshi, who is the pilot, said, "I would like to reach the targeted distance by any means possible."
Aircraft costing more than one million yen sets a new record
On the other hand, Kyoto University team, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, will compete in the HPA Distance category. The team has proven strong, finishing third in the rally around ten years ago, and is large, having 60 members. They made an aircraft using more than one million yen raised from members' part-time jobs and other fund-raising, and have repeated trial flights five times.
Their goal is a 10-kilometer flight, which is their own record high. Hidaka Asai, team captain, said, "I am looking forward to the rally because it is an opportunity where people engaged in manufacturing are spotlighted."
The Birdman Rally will be held on July 29 and 30 at the Matsubara Swimming Area, Matsubara-cho, Hikone City.(Translated by Mie Hiuzon, Psyche et l’Amour, Inc.)