Massive Rotorcraft Named After Japanese Turtle Sets Record in Maryland

When we think about 11.4 seconds, it doesn't really amount to much, but in the world of female human-powered helicopter flight, it's a new record.

The record was set by University of Maryland biology student Julie Wexler aboard the massive four-rotor Gamera. The name hails from a Japanese kaju movie starring a large flying turtle but the work behind Gamera is all Stateside. Fifty students and graduates worked on the craft over the past two years as part of an effort to claim the record and the coveted American Helicopter Society's Sikorsky Prize, which promises fame and a small fortune to whoever can create a human-powered rotor craft that stays aloft for 60 seconds.

The craft assembled by the Maryland team resembles the overall record holder, called Yuri. Yuri's record, set in 1994, was 19.46 seconds at .65 feet. That model also boasted a four-toro design with human pilot seated in the center. [Gizmag]