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Gossamer-Albatross - $$7.50

The Gossamer Albatross aircraft was designed to fly long distances with a human as the only power source. On June 12, 1979, the Albatross, powered and guided by pilot Bryan Allen, made an historic flight across the English Channel. The flight covered a distance of 22.25 statute miles in 2 hours and 49 minutes. Two sizes included in the folder with the large having a span of 36" !! We've included the parts and suggestions on how to build this model using clear Saran Wrap..

MacCready Gossamer Albatross Man powered Flight

MacCready Gossamer Albatross
First Man-Powered Flight Across the English Channel

Original Artwork by Derek Roberts

The MacCready
Human Powered Gossamer Albatross

Cartoon AND model by Derek Roberts

  Gossamer Albatross by Bob Penikas
MacCready Gossamer Inflight
Lets appreciate the model design of Derek Roberts for the Gossamer Albatross (above), the model building (above) by Bob Penikas, and, of course, all the pioneering human powered flight work by the Paul MacReady research crew.
This Fiddlersgreen downloadable cardmodel comes in two scales: 1:33 and 1:45 with the larger version having a wing span of 36 inches. There are two sheets of cutout ribs should you choose to build it as 'see-through' and cover it with saran wrap. With proper ballast, this is a flying model

What People Say...

Glue for plastic:
CYA, I like the medium consistency, not the runny kind and here locally I can drop by the hardware and pick up the Gorilla Glue. For saran wrap, I'm not sure but the UHU sticks work fairly well on tissue, stick models. Col Duckworth


Human Powered Flight - The Gossamer Albatross

Gerhardt Cycleplane

Gerhardt Cycleplane an
unsuccessful human powered plane, from 1920.

From the earliest of times man has dreamed of flying by his own means, even Da Vinci had such dreams and made designs as early as 1490. By the 1920s man was able to make successful human powered flight, though never making any great

Gabriel Poulain on Aviette
Paris, July 9, 1921: Gabriel Poulin and his Aviette at Longchamps racecourse, where he won 10,000-franc Prix Peugeot, the first prize for human powered flight.


The Gerhardt Cycleplane looked like just about any other airplane of the early 1920s except it had seven wings. And then there was Gerhardt's method of propulsion: bicycle power. Since high-aspect ratio wings were the best way to get into the air with lower, bicycle speed drag, the wingspan would need to be longer than a battleship to get the Cycleplane airborne. So Gerhardt divided that wing and came up with seven. Of course he had to add the drag of all those struts and wires from all those wings. But he forgot all about that. It didn't matter anyway. Built lightly, the Cycleplane's top wings collapsed on its only take-off run.

All the way up to modern times we still have had such dreams, and in the late 70's the dream was truly achieved. The Gossamer Albatross, designed by Dr. Paul MacCready, on June 12, 1979 flew across the English Channel piloted and powered by Bryan Allen. MacCready had been designing sail planes since the mid 70s his first major success was the Gossammer Condor which set a distance record of a 1 mile flight in 1977. He took up construction of these planes in response to a challenge made by industrialist Henry Kremer. Two years later another challenge was offered and met with the crossing of the English Channel.

Unlike just about any other flying craft, the machines that emerged from MacCready's workshop were built with one aim in mind: to break records.

The first of these the Condor, had a wingspan of 96 feet and was a pusher design, with a large two-bladed propeller mounted at the back and an auxiliary aero foil placed well forward. The pilot sat in an enclosed cabin directly below the main wing. For the record breaking flight which took place at Shafter, California, championship cyclist Bryan Allen was chosen as the pilot. On the hot August day in 1977, he flew the strange-looking Condor between the two pylons in 7 minutes 2.5 seconds.

Two years later, with Henry Kremer's challenge to fly across the English Channel, MacCready and his team build an improved version of the Condor, the Albatross. In many respects it was identical to the Condor and once again Bryan Allen piloted it on the journey. He landed at Cap Gris-Nez, near Boulogne, after pedaling 23 miles over the water.

Gossamer Albatross
The Gossamer Albatross in its record setting 1 hour 9 minutes, and 3 second flight over Harper Dry Lake, California.

Albatross Inflight
To sustain level flight, the MacCready Gossamer Ablatross required at least .25kW of power to the propeller. This factor alone ensured that the pilot had to be at peak fitness in order to complete the cross-Channel trip successfully. Turning took another 20% more power.

Gossamer Albatross InflightOverview:
The Albatross was powered using pedals to drive a large two-bladed propeller. Piloted by amateur cyclist Bryan Allen, it completed the 22.2 mi crossing in 2 hours and 49 minutes, achieving a top speed of 18 mph and an average altitude of 5 feet.

The Gossamer Albatross is of unusual "canard" configuration, using a large horizontal stabilizer forward of the wing in a manner similar to the Wright brothers' successful "Flyer" aircraft. The Gossamer Albatross was constructed using a carbon fiber frame, with the ribs of the wings made with expanded polystyrene; the entire structure was then wrapped in a thin, transparent plastic (mylar aka PET film). The empty mass of the structure was only 71 lb, although the gross mass for the Channel flight was almost 220 lb. To maintain the craft in the air it was designed with very long tapering wings (high aspect ratio), like those of a glider, allowing the flight to be undertaken with a minimum of power. In still air the required power was of the order of 300 W, though even mild turbulence made this figure rise rapidly.

The Gossamer Albatross was designed and built by a team led by Paul B. MacCready, a noted US aeronautics engineer, designer, and world soaring

Little Gossamer Penguin
A follow-up to the Albatross was the solar-powered Gossamer Penguin (above) in 1980.The Penguin was fragile and not very airworthy, but led to the Solar Challenger

champion. Gossamer Albatross was his second human-powered aircraft, the first being the Gossamer Condor, which won the first Kremer prize on August 23, 1977 by completing a specified figure-eight course.

Paul MacCready -Aviation PioneerMacCready's team built two Albatrosses; the back-up plane was jointly tested as part of the NASA Langley/Dryden flight research program in 1980 and was also flown inside the Houston Astrodome, the first ever controlled indoor flight by a human-powered aircraft. The Albatross II is currently on display at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington. The aircraft used in the channel crossing is on display at the Smithsonian Institution's Udvar-Hazy Center.

Solar-powered variants:
The Penguin airframe had been built by the MacCready team as a third craft for the cross-channel attempt; in most of its dimensions it was three-quarters the size of the Gossamer Albatross, and was held in reserve as a speedier if slightly higher-powered alternative to be used if it were found that the Channel weather precluded success by the slower-flying Albatross. . Designed by Paul MacCready, the Solar Challenger had a wingspan of 47 feet and a mass of 198 pounds. Its wings were covered with 16,128 PV cells, with a total output power of 2,600 watts, about enough to drive a pair of hair dryers. The Solar Challenger was capable of reaching an altitude of 12,000 feet . On July 7, 1981 the aircraft, piloted by Steve Ptacek, accomplished the 163 mile flight from Paris to Manston in the UK.

This material is reprinted from the book Gossamer Odyssey by Morton Grosser (Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1981), and is used with the permission of the author.

MacCready Gossamer Albatross FG Cardmodel MacCready Gossamer Albatross FG Cardmodel Closeup
These two Gossamer Albatrosses (Albatrossi?) were built by the designer, Derek Roberts
Bob Martins Gossamer Albatross cardmodel
Fiddlersgreen's 'Beta build' Gossamer Albatross - Thanks to Bob MartinBob Martins Gossamer

MacCready Gossamer Albatross FG CardmodelSo you think you're a great cardmodeler..??!!

We've included all the ribs and riblets needed to build this model using Saran Wrap as the covering and dowels for the spars.. Along with a few suggestions hoping to make it easier..

The larger version has a wing span of 36 inches.

Why not try it? and while you're at it, install a tiny electric motor and grab a few prizes at the model club.

No need to ask permission to reprint as long as its not for sale, OK?


Luck !!


Boom Callouts
Boom Callouts
Canard Details
Canard Details
Cabin DetailsCabin Details
Drive Train Callouts
Drive Train Callouts
Propeller Hub CalloutsPropeller Hub Callouts
Typical Wing Cronstruciton
Typical Wing Construction

Three View & Specifications for the Gossamer Albatros

3 View of the Gossamer Albatorss
Length: 34 ft
Height: 16 ft
Span: 98 ft
Wing Area: 488 ft²
Empty Weight: 70 lbs
Gross Weight: 215 lbs


Maximum Speed: 18 mph
Range: 35 miles

MacCready Gossamer Albatorss Callout
A: Ahead of the Gossamer Albatross main wing, mounted at the end of of a long cylindrical pole, was the auxiliary aerofoil section. It was designed to pivot universally on the outrigger pole. B: Centrally located above the main outrigger spar was the air speed indicator Although rudimentary it was a vital piece of equipment, helping the pilot ensure that the speed of the Albatross was sufficient to keep the craft airborne. C: To make the Albatross as light as possible. materials used included balsa wood (for the propeller), Mylar (for the fuselage covering, aerofoil and wing sections), plus alloy and foam sheet for the leading edge of the wing.
D: Protruding rearward from the Gossamer Albatross wing was another outrigger pole, which doubled as a ballast weight to help maintain stability while in flight. E: The Gossamer Albatross pilot sat on a bicycle type frame and power was by means of peddling. A chain drive and sprocket provided a direct link to the two bladed balsa wood propeller. F: Tiny castor-like wheels were used on the Gossamer Albatross. They were non-retractable and protruded slightly from the floor of the Mylar- covered cabin. Contrary to popular belief, they were not powered, but purely freewheeling.

Gossamer Condor
The Gossamer Condor was the world's first human-powered airplane capable of controlled and sustained flight. The Gossamer Condor received the first Kremer Prize in 1977.
Gossamer Condor

Three View & Specifications for the Gossamer Condor

3 View of the Gossamer Condor
Wingspan: 96 ft/ Length: 30 ft/ Height: 18 ft/ Weight: 70 lb.
The Gossamer Condor was just a bit smaller and preceeded the Gossimer Albatross


Condor Crash
Crashes like this were common with the Condor.

Albatross Crash

The Albatross had similar problems which lead Bryan Allen to say "The Albatross has crashed three times in the last 1/2 hour of flight testing. On two the these occasions I have suffered minor injuries... I think that you possibly have not realized that the philosophy of "fly, crash, repair, and fly again" which was used in the early stages of the Condor project is no longer a valid method. The pilot is going to maimed or killed if this philosophy is used on an aircraft which can so easily be popped up to 30 or 50 ft."

Here you see him jumping clear of the Gossamer Albatross- out the port side where there is no door- when the Albatross has become uncontrollable. This was to keep the impending dammage to a minimum. Photo copyright by Don Monroe.

MacCready Gossamer Albatross Man powered Flight Fiddlersgreen

Photo copyright by Don Monroe.