The human-powered helicopter developed by some extremely intelligent individuals at the University of Maryland's Clark School of Engineering has broken the record for the longest flight time by -- what else -- a human-powered helicopter. The device, which has been lovingly dubbed Gamera II, is constructed of carbon fiber, balsa wood and foam, for a total weight of 76 pounds. As you can imagine, getting this thing off the ground is no small task.
For the demonstration, the contraption, which is powered by the pilot's arms and legs, was fueled by the determination of Ph.D. Kyle Gluesenkamp. From the looks of the video embedded below, he certainly gives it his all. By the time those 50 seconds are over, it's clear that Gluesenkamp was pretty winded, which, of course, is to be expected when you're attempting to lift a weighty helicopter off the ground using nothing but your strength and will.
Professor Inderjit Chopra, the project's advisor, said that, in addition to the 50-second flight time, the helicopter reached an estimated height of four feet. In order to win the Igor I. Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Competition, Gamera II will have to remain in the air for over 60 seconds while maintaining a height of nearly 10 feet. When this has been accomplished, the team will receive a cool $250,000 reward from the American Helicopter Society for their efforts
Gamera II's previous incarnation, Gamera I, was a 106-pound device that managed to stay in the air for nearly 11 seconds. According to Chopra, the team plans to meet the requirements for the reward by this August. I wish them nothing but the best of luck.