Bike-Powered Helicopter Smashes World Record, Flies for Almost a Minute | Smart News | Smithsonian
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Bike-Powered Helicopter Smashes World Record, Flies for Almost a Minute

Kyle Gluesenkamp powers the Gamera II helicopter A team of engineering students designed and built a bicycle-powered helicopter that managed to hover just above the ground for 50 seconds—10 seconds and 3 meters of altitude shy of the $250,000 Igor. I Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Competition prize. Wired UK reports, The aircraft consists of a [...]

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Kyle Gluesenkamp powers the Gamera II helicopter

A team of engineering students designed and built a bicycle-powered helicopter that managed to hover just above the ground for 50 seconds—10 seconds and 3 meters of altitude shy of the $250,000 Igor. I Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Competition prize.

Wired UK reports,

The aircraft consists of a stable X-shaped frame with rotors of 13 metres diameter installed at the end of each 18-metre arm. Crafted from carbon fibre, mylar plastic, balsa and foam, the aircraft comes in at around 32kg. However, despite pedalling ferociously during the record-breaking test flight, the pilot — mechanical engineering student Kyle Gluesenkamp — does not appear to come close to the three-metre altitude rule.

For the mathematically inclined, physicist-blogger Rhett Allain walks through the mechanics of bicycle flight:

Let’s say that you want a smaller huma-copter. Say you want to use a rotor area that is half the size of the one above. To compensate for the smaller rotor, you will need to push the air faster – faster by a factor of the square root of 2. Fine. But now, what about the power? Since the power depends on area and the air speed cubed, this will take 40% more power. When you are at the limit of human power output, 40% can make a big difference.

More from Smithsonian.com:

How A Pigeon Is Like A Helicopter

Ten Inventions Inspired by Science Fiction 

1923 Envisions the Two-Wheeled Flying Car of 1973 

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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