A Quick Spin Around the Gym

Three people tend to a human-powered helicopter in a gymnasium
The Da Vinci III's historic flight in Mott Gym. Image courtesy of University Archives, Cal Poly.

On December 10, 1989, Cal Poly aeronautical engineering students achieved the first certified flight of a human-powered helicopter. Guided by mechanical engineering professor William Patterson, test director Kyle Naydo (left), pilot Greg McNeil (center), and project manager Neal Saiki (right) achieved a 6.8-second ascent of the Da Vinci III above the hardwood floor of Mott Gym. The team received the Chairman’s Award from the American Helicopter Society.

See more milestones in Cal Poly’s 100 years of aeronautic and aerospace history in our Taking Flight timeline.