The DaSH Project – Building a ‘Simple’ Human-Powered Airplane


Date Thursday May 25th 2017



PARC Forum

The DaSH PA project stands for “Dead-Simple Human-Powered Airplane.” The idea is to take the most simple and efficient approach to building a human-powered airplane (HPA) that flies powered solely by its human pilot, and that performs well. It was started by a group of engineers just for the fun of it, so we could learn for ourselves while designing and building something challenging, fun and a little bit “out there,” and to educate others. Over 200 volunteers have helped build and fly the first successfully flown HPA in the U.S. in 27 years.

To make a human-powered airplane work, one must design an airplane that is incredibly light, but extremely large at the same time — the base design for DaSH has a wingspan of 33.3 m (109 ft.), with an extended wing version reaching 40 m (131 ft.), yet it weighs under 45 kg (99 lbs). Accomplishing this feat involves using a combination of lightweight materials, from high-strength carbon fiber composites, to plastic films and foams, wood, and a very small amount of metal, bonded together with high-strength adhesives.



Alec Proudfoot of Proudfoot Design is currently Chief Designer on the DaSH human-powered airplane project. He was the engineer at Google Inc. who started the RechargeIT plug-in vehicle project. At AeroVironment, he was a member of the engineering team that created the GM Impact prototype. The Impact entered production as the GM EV1, the first modern high-power AC-induction electric vehicle. Alec has followed the alternative fuel vehicle scene as an engineer, a consumer, and a journalist — some of his footage appears in the documentary film “Who Killed the Electric Car.”

In addition to his alternative fuel vehicle work, Alec has had a diverse engineering career, spanning fields from aviation to medical devices to telecommunications, and has also worked as a professional helicopter pilot. Most recently, Alec was a renewable energy engineer at Google working on the RE.

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