Who knew that pedal-powered flight would have such a sudden resurgence in popularity? Recently we looked at a Dutch teenager who is making waves with his pedal-powered plane made out of balsa wood and foil, and now we’ve learned that the American Helicopter Society is trying to garner even more interest in pedal power with a $250,000 prize.
The Igor I. Sikorsky Human-Powered Helicopter Competition was first launched almost 30 years ago with a $20,000 prize. But–surprise, surprise–it never attracted enough attention, so helicopter company Sikorsky Aircraft is upping the ante with more cash for adventurous inventors.
Aspiring prize-winners have to build a human-powered helicopter that hovers at least three meters in the air for 60 seconds. That’s harder than it sounds–the current record for human-powered helicopter flight, set in 1994 by researchers at Japan’s Nihon University, is a hover at 0.2 meters for nearly 20 seconds. Plenty of engineers have tried to beat the record in hopes of winning the Sikorsky Competition, but so far, no one has succeeded. But as anyone who watches people scramble to win the X PRIZE competitions knows, there’s nothing like a big wad of cash to get the creative juices flowing.