University of Maryland to try flying Gamera again Thursday

Students make final preparations to the helicopter. (Photo: Autria Godfrey/ABC7)

Engineering students at University of Maryland have take on an ambitious attempt: To win a prize from Sikorsky Aircraft, they're attempting to fly a helicopter using human power alone.

However, a malfunction stifled efforts to get the craft off the ground Wednesday. After some adjustments, the group of students will try again Thursday to get the helicopter airborne.

Students put the finishing touches on the cockpit of Gamera, a human powered helicopter, on Wednesday

"We're cleaning up and finishing up just to get that little extra, we don't want to almost do it," said Mor Gilad, an engineering student and project manager.

With some last minute preps and a whole lot of optimism, students reached the culmination of three years of design and construction.

"I can't even count the hours, the number of labor hours put into this project, but it's a labor of love for them,” said Darryll Pines, the dean of Clark School of Engineering.

With a pilot running both hand and foot pedals, the goal is for her 170-pound body to put out enough energy to get the 100-pound helicopter off the ground.

The 50-member team planned to set the record for the first female-piloted human-powered helicopter and snag the Sikorsky prize, a $250,000 award for hovering 60 seconds at three meters high in the air.

After three test flights, the chain kept popping off. Students added support to keep the chain in place, but the additional work didn’t prove fruitful.

The team is still determined, they aren't going anywhere, unless it's up.

"It’ll be a great honor to them as graduates, some of the grads, if they can achieve this goal. But we know if we can't achieve it today, possibly this summer but definitely this fall," said

Even if they are successful in getting it off the ground for the required 60 seconds, they will have to repeat it again Thursday morning so an official with the American Helicopter Society can verify it.