Human-Powered Helicopter: Todd Reichert Completes 33-Year-Old Challenge, Hovers 10.8 Feet Above Ground For 64 Seconds [VIDEO]

By Philip Ross on July 12, 2013 12:00 PM EDT

human powered helicopter
A human-powered helicopter made its maiden flight in Toronto, Canada. (Photo: YouTube/Screenshot)

A human-powered helicopter, weighing just over 100 pounds and measuring 154 feet across, became the first helicopter to take flight sustained solely by man power.

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The human-powered helicopter was developed by 31-year-old Todd Reichert, a Canadian engineer. He and his team from Toronto became the first to come up with a truly human-powered helicopter, flown by pedaling a bicycle. The victory ended a 33-year-old challenge and resulted in the Toronto-based team receiving a check for $250,000.

Thirty-three years ago, in 1980, the American Helicopter Society International, or AHS, a nonprofit technical society that works to advance vertical flight, established the Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Competition and challenged eager engineers to be the first to build a human-powered helicopter. The prize for first team to create the contraption was $250,000.

The guidelines of the competition? Make a helicopter, fueled only by human muscle power, that could reach an altitude of 9.8 feet, remain inside a 32.8-square-foot area, and hover in the air for at least 60 seconds.

At an indoor soccer field near Toronto, Reichart pedaled the human-powered helicopter into aviation history. The helicopter hovered 10.8 feet in the air and remained there for 64 seconds -- successfully meeting the guidelines of the AHS's challenge.

"You're not thinking about how nice it is to be flying with your feet," Reichert told the Wall Street Journal. You're thinking, 'I'm a machine.' The level of physical and mental focus was like nothing I've ever experienced before."

Watch the human-powered helicopter take flight in this video uploaded to YouTube by the HeloSociety:

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