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Aero India 2023

First-ever human-powered helicopter set to take to skies

An illustration of the pedal-powered chopper.

LONDON (PTI): A university team in the US is all set to propel into the history books when it test-flies the world's first-ever human-powered helicopter Thursday.

While basic planes without engines have been launched by humans for decades, no one in the world has yet found a way to make a pedal-powered helicopter stay in the air for more than a few seconds.

And after two years of gruelling work, 50 engineers from the University of Maryland in the US are set to launch their creation for the first time Thursday, the Daily Mail newspaper reported.

The University of Maryland's helicopter, named Gamera, is a huge 60 foot long and each rotor is 42 feet in diameter.

Despite its size, which stretches across about a third of a football field, the whole model, made from carbon fibre, foam and balsa wood, weighs just 140 pounds, say its makers.

Aaron Harrington, an aerospace engineering student at Maryland, said he decided to join the team after one of his professors "came to me and said he had this really awesome idea".

"I thought it's an awesome idea and really interesting challenge," he added.

The chopper will attempt to be flown by Judy Wexler, 24, a biology student, who will sit beneath the X-shaped frame and furiously pedal with her hands and feet. She has been chosen because she is light and, as a competitive cyclist, has a very strong power-to-weight ratio.


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