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Gossamer Albatross

The wrong brothersIt was one of those record-breaking events, like domino toppling and giant houses of cards, that children’s TV lived for. Blue Peter, John Craven’s Newsround and Record Breakers got plenty of mileage out of NASA scientist Dr Paul MacCready’s attempt to fly across the English Channel in a man-powered aircraft. Luckily for pilot Bryan Allen, after all the media build-up, the backward-facing, all-plastic contraption with bicycle-powered propeller didn’t fare as ridiculously as it looked – the crossing was made in a shade under three hours, and children briefly forgave NASA for their unconscionable dallying over the space shuttle.

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