Human-Powered Helicopters

The concept is simple -you pedal, the rotors turn, and air is displaced. But you need a lot of power to displace a lot of air and maintain control over the craft at the same time. Engineering student Graham Bowen-Davies is trying to work out the best design for a human-powered helicopter, which is no easy task.

Bowen-Davies and dozens of his fellow students from the University of Maryland are chasing one of aviation's last milestones: the Sikorsky Prize. The American Helicopter Society (AHS) has promised $250,000 to the team that can build a human-powered helicopter. All it has to do is hover for a minute, reach a height of 3 meters (about 10 feet), and stay in a 10-meter box.

Turns out, that's harder than it sounds. The prize has been unclaimed for more than three decades.

Making the craft very light is a shortcut to powering it, but that makes it harder to control. Recent designs are getting closer to fulfilling the Sikorsky Prize requirements. Read more and see a video of these crafts at NPR. Link -via Kottke


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