Human Powered Helicopter Wins Sikorsky Prize

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Making  a human-powered helicopter is a challenge that has been attempted many times and so far, no one had managed to do it, until now. There are many aircrafts that are human-powered, but helicopters are tricky because they demand more power to stay in flight, and because of how their aerodynamics work, they are much harder to control fully by a human being. This is why Igor I. Sikorsky established a challenge in 1980 for someone to make such a vehicle. The rules said that someone would need to pilot a human-powered helicopter for 60 seconds at least 3 meters from the ground, in an horizontal position.

This is what a small Canadian team set off to accomplish when they launched a Kickstarter project back in June of 2012. They raised $34,424 and set off to create the vehicle.  On June 13, the team set off to accomplish their goal by flying the weird vehicle in a stadium near Toronto. They posted a video of the attempt showing the winning run, but it was a last ditch effort. On two previous attempts, they did not manage to reach 3 meters, but just minutes before they ran out of time on their stadium rent, they finally pulled it off with 3.3 meters and 64 seconds of flight time.

The FAI, the organization overseeing international aeronautiical competitions, validated the win and granted the small team with $250,000 in prize for acomplishing a technological feat no one had managed to do before. While it's not clear right away how useful a vehicle could be that ran on human power and could fly at 3 meter of altitude, this is how great inventions start, and this event was well received in the world of aeronautics.