There are a few flying questions lately and this got me thinking. Someone suggested that a centaur might power a plane via a bicycle. I don't think this would work out, since the centaur would be very heavy compared to its power... but what about a small, light creature, with a lot of strength compared to its weight? What about a goblin?
If goblins used man-powered planes... how far could they go?
Characteristics of Goblins
In this case, I am presuming the following relevant characteristics:
- They're small, of course. Let's say about 3.5 to 4 feet tall. This allows you to shrink various aspects of the plane, and should have an exponential improvement on its flight distance
- They're skinny and light, as is popular in most modern depictions. They probably weigh about 20 to 30 pounds, say 25 for simplicity. This reduction in weight should allow you to cut down on the weight of the craft, as well, which could have a significant impact on fuel-efficiency (in this case, goblin-power), and thus total flight distance.
- Compared to their weight, they are immensely strong. I'm not sure what figure to give, to best represent a strength to weight ratio... but as a general estimate, let's say that while they are about a 5th the mass of a 6-foot healthy man, they actually have 40% of the strength. In other words, they're about twice as strong per weight.
- We'll also say that goblins have more endurance than a human. For simplicity, let's say they can endure twice as long, while putting out twice the power per weight, so theoretically 4x the total energy output per weight per day.
I expect the MIT Daedalus would be the best example to go off of. It has the current record of 115 km in a man-powered flight.
You don't need to have just one goblin peddler. If the goblins are capable of producing more lift than their weight, then packing 3, 4, or even some ridiculous number like 12 could be considered?
It's possible the question of multiple goblins is too complex, as it gets into the complication of adding in new pilot seats, increasing structural strength, or even lengthening the plane in extreme cases. So, feel free to focus on the question of a single goblin. Extra credit to anyone who works out how multiple goblins can change the distance, of course. Or better yet, the optimal number of goblin-peddlers.
Assisted takeoffs, via taking off from a high point, or using a catapult, or whatever else, is allowed. This wasn't the case for the record flight of the Daedalus, where the takeoff had to be manpowered. I'm not sure how much of a difference this will make to distance, but I could imagine it adding on several km.
So, using humanoids with these sorts of characteristics... how far could a goblin powered plane go?