Video: Human-powered ‘copter sets flight record

Humans dreamed of flying for hundreds of years before the Wright brothers, with some imagining human-powered aircraft would eventually take flight.

Today that dream is much closer to reality with three different teams having constructed and flown human-powered helicopters. One of the teams hails from the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland.

The Maryland U crew recently set an unofficial human-powered helicopter flight duration benchmark of 35 seconds with the Gamera II (Before the unofficial record can become official, it has to be verified by the National Aeronautic Association).

This same team of students currently holds the duration record of 11.4 seconds set last July, and is one of three competing in the American Helicopter Society Igor I. Sikorsky Human-Powered Helicopter Competition for a cool $250,000 prize.

The criteria? The helicopter – powered only by human means – must be capable of lifting off and hovering for 60 seconds. The ‘copter also has to attain a height of at least 3 m at some point during the 60-second flight – all while staying within an area that measures 10 square meters.