Make Man Fly, Collect $250,000

If you want to make an easy $250,000, all you have to do is prove you can make a human-powered helicopter. OK, so maybe it's not so easy.

Stratford-based Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. is pledging the quarter-of-a-million dollars in prize money to the first person who can achieve the engineering feat.

"Igor Sikorsky, founder of Sikorsky Aircraft, believed that individuals provide the spark that moves mankind ahead. This competition continues his legacy by inspiring ingenuity in the next generation of engineers who will design our industry's future," Sikorsky Vice President of Research Mark Miller said in a news release.

The Human-Powered Helicopter Competition was created by the American Helicopter Society International. So what do you have to do to win? The contest stipulates that the money will go to the person who can develop a human-powered helicopter that can reach an altitude of three meters during a hover lasting at least 60 seconds.   

(As a warning: the AHSI recommends you have adequate insurance coverage for any third party who could be hurt should you succeed in this feat of flight, and to take every precaution against hurting people and damaging property.)

The official world record for is held by a Professor Akira Naito, of Nihon University in Japan, according to the Sikorsky news release.

How did Naito do? His record "flight" reached an altitude of 0.2 meters and lasted 19.46 seconds, so it appears it will take a little more than that to win the dough.

The question for the engineer who finally does win the prize:  what is $250,000 to a company that stands to make millions, if not billions from the design? The engineers should be smart enough to figure that one out.

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