Life Science and Technology News
Meister, an official Tokyo Tech student club, has finished fourth in the 2023 Japan International Birdman Rally, held at Lake Biwa in Hikone, Shiga Prefecture in late July. The annual contest — the 45th of its kind — was broadcast on Japanese television by Yomiuri Telecasting Corporation on August 30.
Tokyo Tech was one of thirteen teams participating in the Human-Powered Propeller Plane category, in which planes and pilots are pushed by teammates before launching off a platform above the surface of the lake. The aim is to fly as far as possible via two designated checkpoints, and ideally, return to the platform. Meister’s pilot and plane flew 3,851.83 m before touching down on the surface of the lake.
To mark their comeback from a series of recent struggles, which included a suspension of activities due to COVID-19, a shortage of club members, and a crash just after take-off during a test flight, Meister named their latest aircraft REVIVAL. For a year, the team worked together to design and fabricate their plane, dreaming of the moment when REVIVAL would take to the skies.
The summer heat and a tricky headwind made the competition tough for the pilots. Meister flew smoothly over Lake Biwa for some 17 minutes but fell short of a podium position. This was, however, Tokyo Tech's best result in the contest since 2015. The team also won the SUPPORTER Award for their efforts in supporting the pilot.
We have been working hard to revive Meister as a strong student club, and our team named our aircraft "REVIVAL" to reflect these efforts.
On the day of the contest, the wind gradually picked up as we approached noon, and at one point the competition had to be suspended. We are slightly disappointed because we were expecting a podium finish. Still, our pilot worked very hard and flew gracefully under difficult conditions. I can say honestly that I have never been this impressed in my life! We also won the SUPPORTER Award, and I am grateful to all the Meister members who worked hard as a united team.
I would also like to thank our supporters and all those involved in this project. We could not have come this far without you.
I felt a great sense of responsibility to pilot REVIVAL, and carried with me the feelings of all the club members who had built our aircraft through relentless trial and error. That said, I was truly happy to be entrusted with the engine and the piloting of REVIVAL by friends who had gone through various struggles together with me.
I will treasure building and flying this human-powered aircraft, all of which was a sentimental experience. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to everyone who supported us. Thank you very much.
The junior students who have been working with us for a year have already begun to build a new aircraft. I ask for your continued support for Meister as we strive to achieve new heights.
For the past year, I have been trying to utilize my strengths in mathematics and programming to design, optimize, and analyze the entire aircraft, and to build the electrical system and steering mechanism. I have given it my all and worked hard together with other Meister members despite the long hours of work.
REVIVAL was severely damaged during the test flight just before the actual contest, and we worked frantically to repair the aircraft. In the end, we achieved a clean flight, which was extremely moving. We all shared these hardships, and we supported pilot Kawami from the bottom of our hearts.
I would like to thank everyone who followed us to the contest and those who supported us in various ways before our flight.
Meister is supported by Tokyo Tech Fund