Human-powered flying machines have been dreamed of ever since the Middle Ages, when Da Vinci sketched his ornithopter and his other flying concepts (that remained at that stage). A team from the University of Maryland has now achieved a record height in their Gamera II human-powered helicopter (with both hands and feet).
Henry Emerson, the test pilot depicted in the following video, managed to ascend the huge four-rotor helicopter 8 feet high in the air and keep it afloat for 25 seconds. Even though the first version of the Gamera helicopter stayed afloat for 49.9 seconds, this one reached the higher altitude.
There’s even a $250,000 Sikorsky Prize for those who build human-powered helicopters, and its conditions are that you have to have “a flight duration of 60 seconds and reaching an altitude of 3 meters (9.8 ft) while remaining in a 10 meter (32.8 ft) square” (Wikipedia).
The prize has been established in 1980 by the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation and the flight has to be authenticated by a member of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale.
Another marvelous attempt of a human-powered flight is Snowbird, the ornithopter built in 2010 in Canada.
I already envision a possible future where you’d charge a battery at home by using your fitness bike to produce energy, put it into such a helicopter and fly around town to get to work. Of course, you’d aid the battery with your continuous movement to generate extra power… but I guess this is over-complicated. We already have the bike for that matter, and it’s also safer.