Japanese students build unconventional ‘flying cycle’ aircraft propelled by pedaling

  • This flying cycle aircraft was created and flown by Japanese students in 2019
  • The pedal-powered aircraft was named Tsurugi
  • It recorded a flight distance of 19 km (11 mi)

Published on Mar 04, 2024 at 9:32 PM (UTC+4)
by Amelia Jean Hershman-Jones

Last updated on Mar 04, 2024 at 9:32 PM (UTC+4)
Edited by Adam Gray

This human-powered flying cycle aircraft was created and flown by Japanese students in 2019.

It was created by Fusha Sakai, an active member of Japan’s Osaka Public University’s student-led Sakai Windmill Association.

The pedal-powered aircraft was named Tsurugi (つるぎ) by the team that is dedicated to constructing and flying human-powered airplanes.

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The video posted to the group’s YouTube channel captures a test flight at a retired runway at Nanki Shirahama Airport by Sakai WindMill Club.

The pilot was under training and although according to the video his “skill was not good at this time” – it’s still an impressive feat.

In fact, he recorded a flight distance of 19 km (11 mi) in the Yomiuri Television Birdman Rally on the bike-like aircraft.

And cycles just keep getting weirder, like this ‘Ringbot’ monocycle robot that rolls around and balances on two legs.

What’s more, this wheelless Frankenbike runs on tracks – and it actually works.

While filmed several years ago, the footage is proof that the dreams of individual human flight are getting closer to becoming a reality.

The Sakai Windmill Association is committed to pushing the boundaries of human-powered flight.

The club designs, manufactures, and pilots its aircraft, competing in the Birdman Contest to set impressive records.

Since their debut in 1994, they have participated in over 20 flights, winning six times across two categories.

Tsurugi is a flying cycle with pedals, wings and a large rotating fan that pushes the boundaries of imaginative engineering.

Since it was posted almost five years ago, the video has been viewed almost 2 million times.

Many in the comments section were supportive of their efforts.

“It looks like the first flight of the Wright brothers, but over 100 year later and without a mechanical engine. Very impressive,” one said.

While others seemed concerned about the fatigue caused by the continuous pedaling required.

“Keeping up the power seems very difficult after the 30 second mark, impressive feat to achieve!” they commented.

And with the dawn of flying cars finally upon us it seems the sky is quite literally the limit.


Amelia Jean Hershman-Jones

London-based Amelia cut her journalistic teeth covering all things lifestyle, wellness and luxury in the UK capital. Fast-forward a decade and the experienced content creator and editor has put pen to paper for glossy magazines, busy newsrooms and coveted brands. When her OOO is on you can find her spending quality time with her young family, in the gym or exploring the city she loves.