Update! Human-powered heli breaks ground effect

Update! Human-powered heli breaks ground effect

When we last reported on the University of Maryland students and their impressive Gamera II machine, they had only managed to get few feet off the ground. In this latest video, Gamera II gains 8 feet in altitude using just its pedaling passenger for power! Here’s the scoop, as reported by Claudine Zap of Yahoo’s Sideshow. After this video was posted, Gamera II reached 9 feet and stayed aloft for more than a minute!

“Students at University of Maryland are using pedal power to break a human-powered helicopter record (but hopefully to break nothing else).

As surfaced by the blog Popsci,  a video shows freshman Henry Enerson taking the vehicle up in the airwith nothing more than foot pedals keeping the thing above the groundhovering eight feet up, and then making a smooth descent. The operation smashed previous records of human-powered flight. Think of these brave students as modern-day Wright brothers (and sisters).

As noted on the video description by the students who make up Team Gamera, “Henry smoothly pedaled Gamera up to just over 8 feet (2.5 meters) altitude and had a controlled descent for a flight time of about 25 seconds. This is not an ‘official’ record but is certainly the highest a human powered helicopter has ever reached.”

The students who call themselves Team Gamera aren’t done yet. The group’s flying contraption, the Gamera II Human Powered Helicopter, is recording test flights  at the Prince George’s County Sports and Learning Complex in Landover, Maryland.

The goal is to go as high as 10 feet, and capture the elusive Sikorsky Prize for the Human Powered Helicopter competition, worth $250,000 for a contraption that can hover at 10 feet for 65 seconds.

But mainly, the must-see video is just an amazing human feat.”


Updated: September 5, 2012 — 8:32 AM


  1. Watching the reactions of the helpers seems to validate the incredible and loving efforts that must have gone into the development and construction of this device. It is pretty amazing – sort of a modern day Da Vinci device, and it really works.

    My engineering education was so vanilla! I would have loved to have had some opportunities for hands-on involvement like this!

  2. I would edit your description to say “foot and hand pedals”.

  3. Impressive! Engineering at the college level has changed from the classroom theory and labs to hands on concept projects. Great job.

  4. Nice, but could they borrow a wide angle lens from the photography department maybe.

  5. I like the calibrated color stripes on the ground crewperson (a stripe for each foot). Coolest altimeter ever!

  6. A tremendous achievement for that group of young people!!

    I noticed he started drifting to the side. If given a larger gym (or space) wonder if he could have made it higher or possibly sustain it longer?

  7. I think its FAKE!!! The camera guy is hiding something on the left of the screen.. He starts panning to the left than goes back right fast…. SORRY GUYS ITS A LIE!

    1. Don’t be a troll. This project is officially backed by the University of Maryland and its Alfred Gessow Rotorcraft Center. The official website of the project is at http://www.agrc.umd.edu/gamera/.

  8. Fantastic effort! It’s amazing how engineering has progressed over the years, Da Vinci would be proud. gjhinshaw did you know that 43 years ago Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon! I spose you think that was fake too, I guess the world needs sceptics as much as anyone else however the difference between wishbones and backbones is that backbones always get things done whereas wishbones always snap under pressure or put it this way when the going gets tough the tough get going. What the guys from Maryland university have achieved is spectacular – keep up the good work!

  9. Nicely done, however I would like to add that it did not get high enough to be completely out of ground effect. Still quiet an accomplishment. My hat goes off to them.

  10. Hey gjhinshaw.
    Blow it out your !@#! Unless you can prove without a doubt that this is a fake keep your comments to yourself. You are just showing your ignorance. This is not the first time that human powered flight has been attempted with success. These guys are on the right track and they deserve congratulations instead of negative criticism.
    To Team Gamera, Great job! keep it up, you’ll get there!

  11. I think the pilot could gain a little more power if the timing was changed between the hand crank and the foot crank.
    The hand crank should be on the upstroke just a little past the 6 o’clock mark. The foot crank should be just on the down stroke. A lot of pressure would now be between the hand and foot.

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