Time set for human-powered helicopter flight
June 21, 2012, College Park, Md. - A team of A. James Clark School of Engineering students will fly their new human-powered helicopter, Gamera II. The vehicle is an improved version of Gamera I, which last year set world records for flight duration.
By Carey Fredericks
Like Gamera I, Gamera II is an enormous hand- and pedal-powered X-shaped vehicle that has four rotors and is 103 feet across diagonally. But Gamera II weighs only 71 pounds, an amazing 35 pounds lighter than the previous vehicle, and features enhanced rotor design, an improved transmission and a redesigned cockpit. The team expects that Gamera II is capable of flights lasting longer than 60 seconds, a major step towards competing for the Sikorsky Prize and remaining ahead of competitors.
The team consists of more than 40 graduate and undergraduate students led by faculty advisors V.T. Nagaraj, Inderjit Chopra, Gordon Leishman and Darryll Pines (dean of the Clark School, one of the nation's top rotorcraft research institutions). This year, there are three pilots participating in the flights: Dennis Bodewits, Kyle Gluesenkamp and Colin Gore. All three are UMD staff or students.
The team has been working for three years to compete for the Sikorsky Prize, offered by the American Helicopter Society. The Clark School team is one of at least three teams planning to attempt flights this summer. No team has succeeded since the prize was first offered in 1980.
The attempt will take place June 20th at the Reckord Armory, University of Maryland in College Park, MD.