Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Propelling themselves into the history books: University team set to launch first ever human-powered helicopter - 11th May 2011

A University team are attempting to make history as the first people ever to fly a human-powered helicopter.

While basic planes without engines have been launched by humans for decades, no one in the world has yet found a way to make a pedal-powered helicopter stay in the air for more than a few seconds.

And after two years of gruelling work, 50 engineers from the University of Maryland are set tomorrow to launch their creation for the first time.

If they succeed in keeping the helicopter off the ground for a minute and manage to get it to rise to a height of three metres, they will win a prestigious award of $250,000 and make history by becoming the first people ever to achieve the feat.

The Sikorsky Prize was established in 1980 by the American Helicopter Society to encourage people to strive to achieve the first controlled flight of a human powered helicopter.

No one has yet won the prize but a Japanese team of engineers have come closest (see Image), flying their helicopter in 1994 for 19.46 seconds at a height of eight inches. Read More