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Md. Students Pedal for Glory

In the annals of flight, the brief hover of a human-powered helicopter named Gamera II hardly rivals the 1947 shattering of the sound barrier. But it’s riveting to watch and quite an achievement for University of Maryland, College Park engineering students. The team has  spent years designing, building, and ultimately flying the four-rotor chopper. In June, their ungainly craft stayed aloft for an unofficial world record-breaking 50 seconds, thanks to the furious pedaling and cranking of pilot Kyle Gluesenkamp, a mechanical engineering Ph.D. candidate. The feat fell short of the American Helicopter Society’s $250,000 Sikorsky Prize requirement of a full minute in the air. Then in late August, the Gamera stayed in the air for 65 seconds, according to Popular Science, but fell short of the height requirement. “Now if they can hit one minute and get a little higher than 8 feet – to exactly 3 meters, or 9.8 feet – they’ll win the $250,000 32-year-old prize.”

The Maryland craft crashed trying to hit the 3-meter mark during a Labor Day trial. But a Canadian team managed a 15-second hover that same weekend–bringing to five the number of human-propelled helicopters ever to leave the ground, reports AutopiaContinue reading Md. Students Pedal for Glory