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A high-tech human-powered aircraft made a successful series of test flights Thursday in preparation for a world-record distance attempt that also will breathe life into the ancient Daedalian myth.

The 68-pound ultralight Daedalus 88 completed six flights lasting less than three minutes each in calm dawn weather above a Greek air force base adjoining Iraklion airport.Five athlete pilots took turns to pedal the shimmering pink-and-silver plane at speeds of around 14 mph, flying about 15 feet above the tarmac. The pilot pumps bicycle pedals that turn the contraption's propeller, and steers the plane with a joystick, coordinating with ground-based radio instructions.

"For the record the pilot must keep pedaling a steady 15 mph but the effort is equivalent to riding 23 miles an hour on land," said Glenn Tremml, a medical student from New Haven, Conn.

"The plane performed successfully in every test. It's ready for the record flight any time now," said Mark Drela, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology aeronautics professor and chief engineer in the 36-member Daedalus team.

The MIT project aims at breaking the world record for human-powered flight over the 74-mile distance from Crete to the island of Santorini, also known as Thira.

The flight also will update the myth of Daedalus. According to the 3,500-year-old myth, the inventor and his son, Icarus, tried to escape from Crete on wings made of feathers and wax. Daedalus succeeded, but Icarus flew too close to the sun, the wax melted and he fell into the sea.

After nine days of blustery weather, conditions Thursday appeared near-perfect for the Santorini flight, which requires temperatures below 70 degrees Fahrenheit and almost dead calm, a rare occurrence on this wind-swept southern island.