COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Students at the University of Maryland have nearly tripled the flight time of their human-powered helicopter.

The university says pilot and biology student Judy Wexler kept the helicopter in the air for 12.4 seconds, on Wednesday, nearly triple the 4.2 second mark she set in May for the pedal-powered aircraft.

The school says enhancements to the helicopter’s cockpit and transmission were made. Other changes include the addition of LED lights to the landing gear that turn on when the helicopter is off the ground.

The team is hoping to win the Sikorsky Prize offered by the American Helicopter Society. To win, a human-powered helicopter has to hover for 60 seconds and reach a height of 3 meters, or about 3 yards.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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