Getting a helicopter 3 meters off the ground for 1 minute doesn't seem like much of an achievement, but doing it without the power of a motorized engine has stumped engineers for the entirety of human history.
Since 1980, there has been a bounty on the table in the form of the Sikorksy Challenge - which states that any group able to build a human powered helicopter that can meet those criteria, all without leaving a 10-meter by 10-meter area, will be awarded a prize of $250,000 and the universal admiration of fellow engineers. A few teams came close in the 80's and 90's, but no group has claimed the prize. That may be changing soon.
A team of 75 students from the University of Maryland have built a of carbon fiber helicopter that is inching its way towards that record, and it is called the Gamera - whimsically named after the flying turtle from old Japanese monster movies and a play on the university's mascot, the Terrapin.
It's powered by the ½ horsepower "Meat-Motor" (as the pilotsRead More »from Human-Powered Helicopter Motors Toward New Frontier