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Page last updated at 06:14 GMT, Tuesday, 5 October 2010 07:14 UK
University of Bath students build human-powered aircraft

University of Bath students
Dan Scarfe (r) and Jon Cherry work on the frame and wings for their machine

Bath students are following in the footsteps of Leonardo da Vinci, by designing and building a human-powered aircraft.

Dan Scarfe and Jon Cherry, who are final year aerospace engineering students at the University of Bath, are completing the challenge as part of their degree.

The project was started by Gareth Evans from Airbus, who designed the frame for a human-powered plane but was unable to finish it due to lack of resources and space.

He donated it to the university so that engineering students could complete it.

Jon Cherry from the University of Bath
Jon Cherry said he "found the project really stimulating"

Last year, Dan and Jon designed and built wings for the plane - this year, a new group of students will complete the plane and test it out to see if it flies.

Jon said: "I found the project really stimulating because it brought together a lot of the theoretical content of the aerospace course and applied it to an intriguing practical problem."Although man powered aircraft have succeeded in the past, it was a challenge to design and build the plane on a limited budget and within a small timeframe."

Dan said he will be excited to see the "hugely rewarding" project completed.

"The ability to both start and see an (almost) finished product at the end of six months of hard work is a rare thing for final year projects," he said.

"The knowledge that our work will also inspire further years and help them develop their degrees is highly satisfying.

"I look forward to being invited back for the inaugural flight and feel privileged for being able to help get the project off the ground."

Dr James Cunningham, who is supervising the project, said: "This project represents a real challenge for our students.

"It combines their knowledge of structures and aerodynamics to design and build a pedal powered lightweight aircraft.

Dan Scarfe from the University of Bath
Dan Scarfe said it will be "hugely rewarding" to complete the project

"The aim is to build the aircraft using readily available low cost materials and relatively simple technologies."

The students expect to be carrying out the first test flights by Easter 2011.

Leonardo da Vinci was born on 15 April 1452 near the Tuscan town of Vinci, Italy.

He became hugely influential as an artist and sculptor, but was also immensely talented as an engineer, scientist and inventor.

From 1495 to 1497 he produced a mural of 'The Last Supper' in the refectory of the Monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan.

For much of his life, Leonardo was fascinated by the phenomenon of flight, producing plans for several flying machines, including a light hang glider and a machine resembling a helicopter.

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