At the Icarus Cup competition at Sywell aerodrome in July 2018, Niall Paterson flew a figure-of-eight course in the Aerocycle 3 human-powered aircraft designed by John Edgley. In doing so he became the first person to complete this feat over British soil, and only the second pilot in history to ever achieve it. The first occasion had been 41 years earlier in California when Brian Allen flew Dr Paul MacCready’s Gossamer Condor to win the first Kremer Prize.
Niall was required to fly the machine with one hand while engaged in an Olympian workout, legs thrashing at full power and lungs bursting. He even had to deal with wake turbulence as he crossed his own path in the still air required for the attempt. Added height is needed to turn the aircraft due to its 22-metre wingspan, and this takes extra power from the pilot’s legs.
As Niall landed after completing the full figure-of-eight plus another half-lap, the crowd erupted into cheers. One emotional onlooker remarked that he had waited 60 years to see such a flight.