Human Powered Helicopter Lifts Off

Since seemingly the dawn of time, man has wanted to be able to take to the skies. A few days ago one woman took to those skies for at least a few seconds under her own power.

A team comprised of researchers and regular students at the University of Maryland set a world record by getting a massive pedal powered helicopter to lift into the air. Of course the flight lasted just a few seconds, (because honestly you need to understand just how hard that is) but it still appears that the flight of the “Gamera” will go down in history as a world record.

The science and tech industry is full of inventors and scientists who have come up with all sorts of different little flying devices such as the robotic “Quadcopter” that is little more than a computer chip with four tiny propellers, or the robot that transforms from a rolling scooter to a flying copter.

The Gamera, which was piloted by one of the researchers on the project, Judy Wexler was able to lift off the ground for about four seconds thanks to her furious pedaling and hovered about three to five inches off the ground. While the research team is still awaiting confirmation from the American Aeronautics Association as to whether this qualifies as a flight and the record the team that created the machine is considering it a success.

The Gamera has an X-shaped design with the pilots module situated directly in the middle. The crossbars forming the X are 60 feet long and have 42-foot diameters rotors at the ends. Combined with Wexler’s weight the contraption weighs in at just over 200 pounds. The building of the machine is in an attempt to win the Sikorsky Prize which would total $250,000 for the team that worked on the machine. Of course there is a lot of work to do in order to win. The Sikorsky Prize requires that the helicopter stay in the air for at least 60 seconds and reach a maximum height of 10 feet, both feats that still to be quite a ways off for the Gamera.