Human-powered helicoper breaks record

A human-powered helicopter, made by a team at the University of Maryland's Clark School of Engineering, US, managed to lift off the ground for a record-breaking 50 seconds.

A human-powered helicopter, made by a team at the University of Maryland's Clark School of Engineering, US, managed to lift off the ground for a record-breaking 50 seconds.

The Gamera II (Credit: The Clark School of Engineering)

Since 1980, the American Helicopter Society (AHS) has offered the Sikorsky Prize: a US$250,000 reward for the first human-powered helicopter. The prize requires a 60-second flight, with an altitude of three metres to be reached at some point during those 60 seconds, and it has remained unclaimed to date.

The Gamera team from the Clark School of Engineering, as reported by Gizmag, looks like it's getting that prize with the Gamera II, a helicopter powered solely by human means. Compared to its predecessor, the Gamera I, the new and improved model boasts enhanced rotor design, an improved transmission, a redesigned cockpit and less weight.

Last week, the Gamera II broke the 11.4 second record, set by the Gamera I, with a 50-second flight by PhD candidate Kyle Glusenkamp — and, although Glusenkamp didn't quite reach the required altitude, it looks like the AHS might soon have reason to fork over the cash.

Don't expect these to hit production anytime soon, though: it looks like impressively hard work. Check out the video below to see Glusenkamp's record-breaking flight.

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