Paul MacCready's Human- and Solar-Powered Aircraft


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Gossamer Condor.

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My name is Don Monroe and I am fortunate to have witnessed and photographed much of Dr. Paul MacCready’s work with human-powered flight and solar-powered flight in the late 1970s and the early 1980s. I photographed the development and many flights of the Gossamer Condor, which was flown by Bryan Allen on August 23, 1977 to win the first Kremer Prize for human-powered flight. I also photographed the development and the flight across the English Channel of the Gossamer Albatross on June 12, 1979, also flown by Bryan Allen, which won for MacCready and his team the second Kremer Prize. A 3/4-scale version of the Gossamer Albatross became the Gossamer Penguin, the first successful, manned solar-powered aircraft. This led to the Solar Challenger, a more conventional-looking aircraft, which was flown from near Paris to England, using solar power. Finally, the Bionic Bat was developed and flown. This aircraft was human-powered, but stored energy was also allowed. This aircraft was designed for speed, and was flown in pursuit of another Kremer prize.

Some of this photography has been published in books, magazines, and newspapers around the world. The purpose of this site is to present some images of these aircraft, which may be found to be of some historical interest. See the photos in the Gallery.

Photography for Publication

All content on this site is copyright by Don Monroe unless otherwise noted, and may not be downloaded, copied, or re-transmitted without permission. If you are a writer or editor or other interested individual and would like to use some of these pictures of MacCready’s aircraft, either in print or online, please contact me. Fees for images for publication are dependent upon use.

Prints for Personal Use

Prints for one's personal use are also available at reasonable prices. Contact me.


I wrote an article on MacCready and the Gossamer human-powered aircraft as an assignment for a feature writing class in 1978 or 1979. It may offer some insight into MacCready's work from 1976 - 1979. I also wrote a piece on the Solar Challenger in early 1981. Neither article has previously been published.

More Information

For more information on MacCready's Gossamer aircraft, see Morton Grosser's book, Gossamer Odyssey: The Triumph of Human-Powered Flight. I believe the only edition in print is paperback, but if you look hard enough, you may be able to find the hardcover version, published in 1981. has 17 used copies of the original hardcover edition listed as of 6/20/15.

Check out Ben Shedd's Academy Award-winning film, the Flight of the Gossamer Condor. See the links page for a link to Ben Shedd's website and more info on the film. There is also an Emmy-winning VHS tape called Search for Adventure: Gossamer Albatross which you may be able to find used.

Please see the links page for some very interesting interviews with Paul MacCready and a talk by him, and for more info on these aircraft and related subjects.

Paul B. MacCready, the father of human-powered flight, died in his sleep during the night of August 28, 2007.