SCIENCE
09/04/2012 01:29 pm ET Updated Sep 04, 2012

Gamera II VIDEO: Human Powered Helicopter Sets Unofficial Altitude Record

The Gamera II, a human-powered helicopter made by University of Maryland engineers, is an unruly contraption that looks like bike guts attached by scaffolding to a set of spinning, oversized surfboards. Is it the future of human-powered transport?

Unlikely, for now. But in this Gamera II test flight video, the team sets a new, albeit unofficial, record. Shot at the PG Sports and Learning Complex in Landover, Md., the video shows incoming University of Maryland freshman Henry Enerson piloting the human-powered helicopter to an altitude of 8 feet, and logging a flight time of 25 seconds.

The Gamera project is inspired by the Igor I. Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Competition. The challenge, which was established in 1980 by the American Helicopter Society in honor of the Russian American helicopter pioneer, carries a prize of $250,000.

In order to win the prize, a craft must stay above the ground for at least 60 seconds and reach an altitude of at least 3 meters (9.84 feet), while remaining within a 10-square meter area during flight. No vehicle to date has fulfilled all of these requirements at once.

Although this unofficial trial fell short of the prize's standards, the Gamera's maximum altitude was the highest ever recorded for a human-powered helicopter, Team Gamera wrote on its YouTube channel.

In June, the Gamera II set a record for flight duration with a time of 49.9 seconds. Later this summer, the team beat its own record, attaining an unofficial flight time of 65 seconds.

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