In June 2011, I, began querying the major broadcast networks to consider producing a reality TV series about the ongoing pursuit of the Sikorsky Prize, which is to be awarded to the first team to build a human powered helicopter that can climb 3 meters, stay airborne for 60 seconds, and stay in a 10 meter square. The impetus for the idea came from my contact with Mountainroad Productions regarding a potential new show about tools and inventions.
I presented the idea of following three particularly intriguing teams, these being students and staff of a top tier engineering and rotorcraft design school, several former NASA engineers, and me, a forty-five year old violin bowmaker. With such an unusual mix of people and backgrounds, we would provide plenty of interesting content and capture an audience at least as large as those of most reality shows of today, because truth is surely more strange and interesting than the conjured fiction that is reality television these days.
The Sikorsky Prize has existed for thirty-three years, pursued, but ultimately abandoned over this time by some prestigious institutions including the Universities of Texas, Michigan, Illinois, Hartford, Naval Post Graduate School, Purdue University, University of Colorado Boulder, University of British Columbia, and others. I explained that capturing the sweat and toil of the mad dash to the finish line by such an eclectic mix of personalities would make for compelling or perhaps even riveting television, as the winning machine will be installed in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
The complete lack of interest from all relevant parties resulted in my decision to start an Indiegogo campaign, in order to raise the money necessary to fund the construction of my machine.
I have compiled a substantial portion of my more interesting correspondence from the last two years at issuu for potential contributors to read and consider.
90% of all funds remaining after my operational expenses are paid will go toward military veterans in need, like the people described in this CNN article who are waiting upwards of 600 days for benefits even after suffering catastrophic injuries.
When I started contacting the networks almost two years ago, the best flight of the day was mere inches off the ground for just seconds. Since then, two well funded University teams have made excellent progress. In fact, the casual observer might think that I do not have a prayer of overtaking them given the disparity in resources and their huge lead in every department.
However, unlike my competition, I do not intend to meet the time, altitude, and boundary requirements to capture the Sikorsky Prize, I am going to crush them.
What I need
I need funding to lease a warehouse in Toronto for the construction, hire a small crew, and purchase exotic and very expensive ultra lightweight materials.
What you get
The chance to make the statement to the TV networks that people expect "reality" television to actually show "real" people involved in real, interesting, or maybe even incredible situations, rather than shows that use phony devices guided by unseen producers, which have become all too common these days.