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Gamera II human-powered helicopter flight record confirmed by NAA


August 10, 2012

The National Aeronautic Association has confirmed a new national record of 49.9 seconds for human-powered helicopter flight for the Gamera II flight on June 21

The National Aeronautic Association has confirmed a new national record of 49.9 seconds for human-powered helicopter flight for the Gamera II flight on June 21

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The unofficial human-powered helicopter flight record set by Kyle Gluesenkamp from the A. James Clark School of Engineering's Gamera II team on June 21 2012 has just been ratified by the National Aeronautic Association (NAA). The new national record has now been submitted to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale for approval as a new world record.

We closed our recent coverage of the record attempts with news that the footage of Gamera II team's astounding 50 second flight time was awaiting examination and confirmation by NAA officials. The anxious wait is now over and, in the end, the scrutineers shaved off one tenth of a second to certify the new official national record as 49.9 seconds. The flight information has now been sent off to be considered for the world record crown. Our congratulations go out to all the University of Maryland students involved.

The Gamera II team will fly again later this month to try and smash through the 60-second barrier and head toward claiming the elusive Sikorsky Prize of US$250,000 set by the American Helicopter Society, which also states that the craft must reach an altitude of three meters (9.84 feet) at some point during the flight to claim the cash.

Refinements to Gamera II are currently being undertaken and reports are coming in of a successful (if unofficial) 70-second test flight having taken place this week. We'll keep you updated on progress.

Source: Gamera II team

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Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag. All articles by Paul Ridden

With the propellers like that, is it really achieving flight, or is it just ground effect?


Human-powered flight is the most idiotic and useless activity to focus on. It is completely impractical, you will never fly to work in one of these contraptions. This is about as sensible as making a human-powered car.

John Stone

"Human-powered flight is the most idiotic and useless activity to focus on. It is completely impractical..."

It's also one of mankind's most powerful dreams.


Just under 200 km in 4 hours over the Mediterranean is not impractical.

Joe Blake

They should have put a power lifter or sprinter on it.


re; John Stone

They are achieving rotary-wing flight on a extremely limited energy budget an you see no value in this?


It's only achieving ground effect, but many consider getting off the ground at all as "flight". Also, it may not be a practical transportation device, but the research and development involved has the potential for developing new technologies and flight efficiency that may be adapted to more practical uses, so I think it's worth the endeavor. Not to mention the education and experience that those involved are getting. And I think the pedal cab is a pretty useful invention.

Angel G

Kids have lots of fun in human powered cars and trikes.


@seanw yes they really did achieve flight.

@John Stone Human powered flight itself is impractical but the design efficiency required to make it happen is impressive and could have other applications.


@John Stone

Something like a human-powered car does exist... It's called a bicycle. Their are also human powered water-craft called paddle boats and row boats. It is not completely out of the realm of possibility that somebody might be able to somehow channel human energy in a way that makes human-powered flight possible.


would there be a net gain if solar panels were added? i.e. energy created more than offsets the additional weight?


With the helicopter flight all of the lift must be generated by the pilot ie when you stop pedaling you fall down. Soft-wing soaring (ie paragliding) is now a widely practised form of aviation, with the lift coming from wind and thermal currents, so the logical next step is to build a human-powered para-wing so the pilot only has to supply energy for forward motion. That may very well make it possible to "fly to work" since the para-wing can be folded and stored at the end of the flight. (Maybe even convert to a road-going recumbent pedal-powered tricycle.)


I say to those who bash this idea as idiotic. What do you call a bicycle?

Marco Pang

This just seems to be overkill. Look at how large this thing is, granted there is a lot of surface area for lift. Why can't someone take the human powered torsion ideas from pumpkin' chunkin' and integrate that into a human powered chopper. Counter rotating blades that are propelled through a lightweight transmission that transmits power from energy that you would input prior to flying ie pedal for a few minutes to build potential energy and then slowly release it whilst still pedaling. I think you could create a pretty nice buffer and smash the record of this garb.

Digger Wigger

What are the exact rules of this contest? I believe a human powered hang glider with a recumbent bike below. get up to speed with the bike, hit the shifter and shift to rear prop. would do this with ease. It would be similar to a microlight.


Has everyone forgotten the laws of physics. The pedeller needs to put in a lot of work to lift his and the craft's dead weight off the ground and to keep it off the ground he has to continue with that effort.

What happens when he is 50ft off the ground and gets a cramp or just runs out of energy? Is it all going to auto-rotate to the ground safely?

Garry Nosworthy
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