A team from the University of Maryland's Clark School of Engineering has shattered the record for the longest flight time for a human-powered helicopter.
Kyle Gluesenkamp last week successfully powered the Gamera II, a 76-pound helicopter made from carbon fiber, balsa wood and foam, for 50 seconds of flight.
Gluesenkamp, a 135-pound Ph.D. candidate in the mechanical engineering department, powered the craft with both foot pedals and a hand crank.
The previous record, which was just more than 11 seconds, was set by the same team last summer with Gamera I, a 106-pound predecessor to the Gamera II.
The Gamera II, which uses about $150,000 worth of materials, has four 43-foot rotors that rotate at about 20 revolutions per minute.
The record, which still has to be confirmed by the National Aeronautic Association, was set while working toward winning the Igor I. Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Competition, a 32-year-old prize that comes with a $250,000 reward. In order to win the prize, the craft must stay above the ground for at least 60 seconds and reach an altitude of at least 3 meters (9.84 feet.)
Inderjit Chopra, the professor advising the project, told The Huffington Post that Gamera II reached an estimated altitude of 4 feet. He said that the team, which has been working on the project for more than three years, has a goal of winning the prize by August.
For more information, and to see images of the construction of the helicopter, click over to the The Gamera Project's website.