Student Takes To The Skies (Sort of) In Man-Powered Flight

University of Maryland student Kyle Gluesenkamp only went about a foot off the ground but he’s hoping that it will still be high enough to set a new world record for flying.

Gluesenkamp must wait for the National Aeronautic Association to adjudicate on his flight time of 50 seconds, an unofficial record for the duration of a human-powered helicopter flight. Here’s the video:

The record validation process will likely take a few weeks.

The new flight best was set in Gamera II, a man-powered helicopter built by students in the university’s A. James Clark School of Engineering.

The 50-second flight far exceeded the 2011 world record of 11.4 seconds, also set by the university in this craft’s predecessor, Gamera I.

Both crafts were built to take part in the American Helicopter Society’s Igor I. Sikorsky Human-Powered Helicopter Competition, which requires a human-powered helicopter to fly for 60 seconds, achieve an altitude of three meters at some point while it is airborne, and remain within a 10-square meter area.

Gluesenkamp set his unofficial record in a campus gym, the flash of cameras going off as he powered the pedals of the craft.

Gluesenkamp, a Ph.D. candidate in the Clark School’s mechanical engineering department, was an alternate pilot for Gamera I last year. He joined by two other pilots (Colin Gore and Dennis Bodewits) during the Gamera II flight session.

“Over the last few days we have witnessed top Clark School student engineers flying an amazing craft they designed and built, resulting in an unofficial new world record of 50 seconds,” Clark School Dean Darryll Pines said in a statement. “If you want to know where to find the future of engineering and great new technologies that will make our lives better, this is it.”

Paul Willis has been journalist for a decade. Starting out in Northern England, from where he hails, he worked as a reporter on regional papers before graduating to the cut-throat world of London print media. On the way he spent a year as a correspondent in East Africa, writing about election fraud, drought and an Ethiopian version of American Idol. Since moving to America three years ago he has worked as a freelancer, working for CNN.com and major newspapers in Britain, Australia and North America. He writes on subjects as diverse as travel, media ethics and human evolution. He lives in New York where, in spite of the car fumes and the sometimes eccentric driving habits of the yellow cabs, he rides his bike everywhere.