Renaissance painter Leonardo Da Vinci wasn't the only one to fantasize about human flight. In fact, 500 years on we're still doing it and at Tohoku University, every year since 1993, a team of predominantly engineering students enter in the Japan International Birdman Rally.
They call themselves the Windnauts, coined from the word 'wind' and suffix 'naut'. The latter, in reference to the navigator of a vehicle. While the first Birdman Rally started in the UK in 1971, the Japanese Rally began in 1977. These days aircrafts are launched from a lakeside jetty by the largest freshwater lake in Japan, Lake Biwa.
The competition is open to members of the public, who are called upon to create human-powered aircrafts and gliders. They compete for distance and some, purely for entertainment value.
Tohoku University's Aviation Club, the Windnauts have won the rally four times through competing in the propellor-driven long distance class. They still retain the distance record for their 36000.00m flight across Lake Biwa in 2008.
|Windnauts anxiously watch the flight across Lake Biwa,
while pilot Takuma Nakamura brings home first prize.
To turn on subtitles, click the 'CC' button below the video
After a year spent reconstructing the aircraft that was used in 2011-2012, current and retired members of the Windnauts have completed the structure to go on permanent display at the 3M Sendai City Science Museum.
The exhibit on the 3rd floor of the museum, opened to the public on November 29. To get there take the subway to Asahigaoka station and walk 5 minutes. For detailed information on opening times, see the museum website here: http://www.kagakukan.sendai-c.ed.jp/en/.