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World Record For Longest Human-Powered Helicopter Flight Unofficially Shattered By University of Maryland Engineering Students

06/25/2012 12:42 pm ET | Updated Mar 01, 2013

University of Maryland students are flying high after unofficially shattering the world record for longest human-powered helicopter flight.

The engineering students’ Gamera II, is a helicopter that takes flight using only power generated from motion currents centralized in an exercise machine with arm and leg cranks, according to a university release. Recently, the Gamera II’s test flight far exceeded the in-air time of last year’s similar model, Gamera I, and its then-record-breaking 11.4 second air ascent.

The helicopter's light design (it weighs a mere 130 lbs) combined with intense arm pushing and pedaling by test pilot mechanical engineering Ph.D. candidate and cyclist Kyle Gluesenkamp, helped the Gamera II to stay airborne for 50 seconds.

The National Aeronautic Association will determine whether the students have indeed broken a record based on submitted video footage of the 50-second flight, in a few weeks.

The project was inspired by college’s AHS Sikorsky Prize, which challenges individuals to build a human-powered helicopter that will lift off and hover for a minimum of 60 seconds, reach three meters in height during the flight and remain within a 10 square meter area, according to project’s site. The Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation promises a $250,000 prize, which has yet to be won by any team to date.

The Gamera II has come the closest of any human-powered helicopter to securing AHS Sikorsky Prize since the challenge was created in 1980. It is the third largest prize in aerospace history.

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