Witnessing Human Flight
Last Friday, I drove up to Maryland to see UMD's Gamera II human-powered quadrotor. They are currently pursuing the Sikorsky Prize, established in 1980. Here's the team testing a new control system.
http://youtu.be/3B2of4V35d0 (sorry, the embed function isn't working)
The helicopter transfers the pilot's pedal power by unspooling cable from pulleys, mounted on the shafts of each of the four rotors. Flight time is limited by the pilot's stamina and the amount of cable stored in each pulley. The rotors are constructed of carbon fiber, balsa, and foam, and are covered in a plastic film.
All in all, it was a cool experience. I've never seen so much carbon fiber in my life! I look forward to seeing the team win the Prize.