Japanese students achieve milestone with pedal powered flying bicycle

The students at Osaka Public University have achieved a remarkable feat with their groundbreaking project. The Sakai Windmill Association, a student organization, has developed a flying bicycle named “Tsurugi,” which translates to “sword.” The inaugural successful test flight took place at the retired runway of Nanki Shirahama Airport, marking a momentous milestone in human-powered flight. 

The Tsurugi boasts huge wings and a large fan behind it, linked to the bike pedals, allowing the rider to spin it as they pedal. Despite being pedal-powered, it functions like a regular airplane, requiring a long, straight path to gain enough momentum and lift. The fan enables the vehicle to ascend and maintain altitude, showcasing a remarkable blend of engineering and innovation. 

In February 2024, the Team Marksmen Network channel on YouTube shared a video of the momentous test flight. Fusha Sakai and the Sakai Windmill Association’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of human-powered flight has paid off, garnering admiration online. One person commented, “Outstanding invention,” while others raised concerns about potential issues, such as, “Imagine you run out of breath whilst pedaling way high up in the air.” 

Although the Tsurugi is an impressive project, it isn’t the first flying bicycle. In 1783, Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier achieved the first successful test flight of a hot-air balloon. This success inspired many to combine pedaling contraptions with flying machines. On April 17, 1889, Pennsylvania’s Altoona Times reported the first recorded successful test of a flying bicycle, the air velocipede or “Sky-Cycle” by Professor Carl Edgar Myers. 

While the Tsurugi may not be the first flying bicycle, Japan remains a leader in airborne electric vehicles. For instance, the startup SkyDrive has developed one of the first-ever flying cars. On March 7, 2024, automobile manufacturer Suzuki announced a partnership with SkyDrive to begin mass production of flying cars.