Science: Odyssey of the Albatross

A Yank pedals over the English Channel in a space-age bike

Shortly after dawn one day last week, a strange contraption teetered down a quay below the chalky cliffs at Folkestone, England. It looked like a giant dragonfly, with diaphanous wings spreading 96 ft. (2½ ft. more than a DC-9's) above skeletal workings of a bicycle: a seat, pedals and a chain that powered a plastic propeller. Inside the translucent shell of the 75-lb. flying machine sat 140-Ib. Bryan Allen, 26, a bespectacled bean pole from Tulare, Calif., garbed in running shorts and leather...

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