NPR recently headed down to the University of Maryland to track the progress of a small team of engineering students attempting to create the world’s first functioning human-powered helicopter. Since our favorite Illuminatus Leonardo Da Vinci came up with the idea almost 600 years ago, we thought that someone would have made a flying machine by now, damn. This apparatus looks more like some kind of helicopter/bicycle hybrid, and is powered by the blood, sweat and tears of an underweight freshman.
The team behind “Gamera” (named after the flying turtle from the famous Japanese Kaiju flick) is fighting to win the Sikorsky award, which has remained unclaimed for over three decades. In order to nab the $250,000 prize, competitors must create a machine that is able to hover for a minute and reach a height of ten feet, all while staying 10-meter box. Gamera is made of ultra-light components, and though its wingspan measures more than 100 feet it only weighs about 80 pounds. After working on the project for two years, the last test flight in 2011 only yielded a four-second flight. They definitely manage to get more air this time around, but make sure to stay tuned to the end to witness an epic wipeout. Sorry, guys.