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On this page I am attempting to gather as much information as I can on HPA history in Australia. If you know of anything I could add please contact me.


G.S Richardson designed and built this pedal-operated glider during 1908 in Penguin, Tasmania. He had moved to Penguin in 1900, where he built and operated a small cordial drink factory. He later established a bicycle manufacturing and repair workshop, and then expanded to encompass motorcycles and motorcars.

Flight was attempted during 1908, from a hill at the eastern end of Penguin, but finished with a crash onto Watcombe Beach. The pilot, who sustained a broken collar bone, was a local, one Dr DeWitt Henty. The pilot sat on a bicycle, which was suspended beneath the wings by several struts. The main struts were connected to the centreline of the wing structure, while other struts were attached to both leading and trailing edges. Flying wires were also attached to each wing tip. Presumably the pilot was to provide the energy to turn the propellers as well as steer and ride the bicycle during the ground run. The wings were set with substantial dihedral, but the ribs were flat, with no camber built in.

Wingspan 30 'Ft (9.14 m) approximately

The (sorry but very poor) photograph shows Richardson in his pedal-operated glider.

The (sorry but very poor) photograph shows Richardson in his pedal-operated glider. Drawing


In 1963, Knipe constructed a manpowered aircraft of his own design. It was intended to compete for the Henry Kremer/Daily Mail (United Kingdom) prize for the first figure of eight flight by a man-powered aircraft. This craft was a flying wing of delta planform. It was powered by two exhaust turbines, which were operated by a set of bicycle pedals. Unfortunately Knipe's aircraft was not successful.


Lauchlan Thornpson was involved with building a copy of Paul McCready's Gossomer Dragonfly with students at RMIT in 1979, and achieved some flights, but to my knowledge no official record attempt was made.

Late 1980's

I was periperally involved in an unsuccessful HPA flight at Wentworth park in the late '80's.
The builders name was "Adam Newman" and he lived (at the time) in Ultimo. Adam was an ecentric, highly prolific builder, mainly active in free-flight and indoor. He apparently had been a corporate high-fligher, but had dropped out, assumed a new name (hence, Adam NewMan) and spent most of his time building and flying his free-flight creations. He was instrumental in getting several Sydney FF and indoor clubs running in the mid to late 80's. (FF at Queens Park on Sunday morning and Indoor (Peanuts/E-Z-Bee's, etc) at the Glebe Police Boys Club on thursday evenings.)
The HPA I helped with was a typical Adam structure. All done on the cheap, but well thought out and structurally sound. Construction was lightweight ply, polystyrene foam and brown paper slung around a lightened bicycle frame.
We tested it in the early mornings a couple of times at Wentworth park where it failed to leave the ground, but its big day out was at the "BirdMan Rally"in Sydneys west.
Not too sure of the setup here, but some tv or radio station had offered a prize for the HPA which made the longest flight. (It was a media stunt, the flights were made off a ramp over a river, rather than being a serious flight incentive)
Adam's flight failed unfortunately, he sped down the ramp and the HPA actually lifted before the end of the ramp, but a CG error saw the aircraft pitch violently up, stall and plunge straight down into the river... it was totally destroyed...
I think I still have some photo's of the crew rescuing Adam from the sea of broken foam and brown paper...
Jerry Cashman
Web Content Director - Farmwide Pty Ltd.
e: jc@farmwide.com.au
t: +61. 2. 6273-6384

The first prototype Skycycle was completed about mid-year. It had detached ailerons and internal cable controls for the pilot. Cautious towing trials began. It crashed whilst being towed, from about 4 metres altitude, in October, due to aileron flutter and the right wing tip tucking under.

Design changes continued with the Skycycle , allowing only one test outing, in early June. A best flight of about 300 metres was achieved. Sustained flight was still not really possible.

The Skycycle's new fuselage boom and cockpit were made to save weight and to improve pilot comfort. The wingspan was increased to 28 metres with the addition of wingtip extensions. The drive was changed from direct gear drive to a chain drive system.
All these changes resulted in a most successful test outing on lst June, 1993, when two flights of 800 metres each were made straight after each other. The flights could have been longer except that we ran out of runway!. This was the first evidence of sustainable flight.
Results were so encouraging that the steps required for making an official attempt have been put into action and, depending on suitable conditions, the plan is to go for an Australian record.

Date Unknown

* I believe that LSF member, John Lynch of Tocumwal, NSW was also involved with an HPA canard project some years ago when he was in the services, but he me that it did not achieve much success, due to pitching problems.

The canard aircraft above may well be the Reg Todhunter "Skycycle" - yes, another one - that was built and tested in the early 80s. The Skycycle was donated to the Powerhouse Museum, which had it in storage. Some details about the Skycycle were published at the time in the "Jane's All the World's Aircraft" annuals.
"Paul Dunlop" <

* Wally Smith from Australia demonstrating his craft which closely resembles an Autogyro as shown on the Birdman Gallery page.


Last updated Sunday, July 18, 2004

Webmaster Timothy Smith