True, 12.4 seconds doesn’t seem like a long time.
But for the University of Maryland engineering students who watched as their 100-pound, human-powered helicopter floated off a gym floor Wednesday, it must have felt like eternity.
The last time the students attempted to do this in May, they celebrated a flight of just over four seconds.
While Wednesday’s time still has to be verified by the National Aeronautic Association, it is clear that the university is still far from claiming the $250,000 Sikorsky Award, which will go to whomever creates a human-powered helicopter that can reach an altitude of at least three meters and hover for at least 60 seconds
To prepare for flights this week, U-Md. students studied their May attempts, enhanced the helicopter cockpit and transmission, and added LED lights that turn on when the helicopter is off the ground.(My previous coverage)
You can read more about Wednesday’s flight on the U-Md. A. James Clark School of Engineering Web site. And check out the cell phone video of the flight (after the jump):