Here is the famous Gossamer Albatross, the flying bicycle that made headlines in 1979 by crossing the English Channel by human power. 25 years later, its hanging from the ceiling of the new Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy museum, just across from the Concorde. It looks pretty ratty nowadays, with smears of decaying glue and shredded strings hanging off it. Inside the Saran-wrap windows you can catch a glimpse of the modified bicycle that powered the plane, with a sprocket and a long chain running up to the propeller shaft above the cockpit.

November 2004

back back