Gamera II, a giant human-powered helicopter developed by students at the University of Maryland’s Clark School, has been vying this week for both new world records and the $250,000 Sikorsky Prize.
On Thursday, the team made an unofficial 40-second human powered flight, shattering the group’s previous 11.4-second record set with a flight of the Gamera I last July.
Building off that initial prototype, the team has spent the last year perfecting the Gamera II, a 71-pound craft featuring four rotors and a frame made of carbon fiber composite trusses. Human power allows it to take advantage of ground effect through the use of hand cranks and bicycle-like leg cranks.
To win the Sikorsky prize, the helicopter has to achieve a 60-second hover while staying within the limits of a 10-meter square. The craft also has to achieve three meters of altitude at least once and can only use power derived from a human pilot.
The Sikorsky prize was first established in 1980, and while many groups have attempted to win it, no craft has ever met its requirements during its 30+ year history.
The individuals working on the Gamera, however, hope to be the first. Check out video footage of one of their recent flight attempts below.