Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Helicopters

Gamera II pilot Kyle Gluesenkamp has smashed last year's human-powered helicopter flight t...

For over 30 years, the US$250,000 cash prize for the American Helicopter Society's Igor I. Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Competition prize has looked decidedly secure, but Gamera II has changed all that. Last week, Clark School of Engineering team pilots came so close to breaking one of the competition's major milestones that they could virtually smell it. Ph.D. candidate from Kyle Gluesenkamp from the School's mechanical engineering department, hand-cranking and pedaling like his life depended on it, managed to keep the huge quad-rotor craft aloft for 50 seconds, an impressive new world record that's currently awaiting validation by the National Aeronautic Association (NAA).  Read More

Eurocopter's X3 takes to American skies for the first time

Eurocopter’s X3 hybrid helicopter has taken to American skies for the first time after being transported stateside aboard a chartered cargo jetliner early last week. The X3 is in the U.S. as part of a month-long tour in which Eurocopter will demonstrate the aircraft's operational capabilities for civil and military use.  Read More

The Gamera human-powered helicopter team at the University of Maryland's Clark School of E...

Last July, the frantic pumping of upper and lower limbs of intrepid pilot Judy Wexler managed to keep the huge Gamera human-powered helicopter in the air for a record-breaking 11.4 seconds. The student team from the Alfred Gessow Rotorcraft Center at the University of Maryland's Department of Aerospace Engineering has since been busy refining and redesigning the craft for another stab at the elusive US$250,000 American Helicopter Society's Sikorsky Prize. Gamera II has been built for longer flight duration and is lighter and tougher than its predecessor, with improved transmission and enhanced rotor design. The new x-shaped craft is set to take off next week for its first test runs and the team is confident that existing record times will be smashed... but will it nab the ultimate prize?  Read More

The Lynx Wildcat (AW 159) completes 20 days of sea trials aboard the frigate HMS Iron Duke...

A Lynx Wildcat helicopter has completed 20 days of sea trials aboard the British frigate HMS Iron Duke in waters off southern England and northern Scotland. It was the latest in a series of trials required before the £16 million state-of-the-art combat aircraft can enter into active service with the British Army and the Royal Navy. The latest tests involved putting the helicopter through tests that involved over 400 day and nighttime take offs and landings from the Iron Duke in the worst weather conditions that could be found to put the mission systems, night-vision equipment and navigation systems through their paces.  Read More

Eurocopter is set to build on its X3 demonstrator (pictured) with the X4 helicopter (Photo...

Eurocopter is set to build on the success of its X3 demonstrator with plans to introduce an advanced X4 helicopter into service in 2017. Designed to replace the AS365 and EC155 Dauphin medium twin helicopters, Eurocopter is keeping its cards close to its chest in regards to the X4 concept, but has said it will feature a radically different cockpit.  Read More

Kai Richter (left) and Holger Mai of DLR inspect the installation of humpback whale-inspir...

Oh, those humpback whales and their weird fins. First, they inspired more efficient wind turbines. Next, their unique qualities were copied by undersea turbines used to harness tidal flow energy. Now, they’ve led to rotor blades that allow helicopters to be more maneuverable. It all comes down to bumps along their leading edge, known as tubercles.  Read More

Griffin's latest version of its HELO TC toy helicopter comes with Android support and twin...

It's another typical day in the office when your co-worker conspicuously begins to play "Ride of the Valkyries" on high volume. Before you can react to the strange shift in tone, you hear the "thwip thwip" sound of a helicopter coming your direction, as if you've stumbled into a cubicle version of Apocalypse Now. Next thing you know, a bright light shines over your cube wall and in your face, blinding you right before you spot two missiles launching straight at you ... which then bounce off your chest since they're made of plastic. You've just become the latest victim of the HELO TC Assault, the newest toy helicopter from Griffin that includes Android support and twin missile launchers.  Read More

With the announcement of the AACUS program, we may be closer to the day when United States...

We may be closer to the day when United States Marines will, within a matter of minutes, use a handheld app to summon robotic helicopters to deliver battlefield supplies. On Tuesday, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) announced its five-year, US$98 million Autonomous Aerial Cargo Utility System (AACUS) program, with the specific aim of developing "sensors and control technologies for robotic vertical take-off and landing aircraft."  Read More

Swann Sky Eye RC helicopter with camera

An iPhone app and a camera take flight in the new remote control helicopters from Swann. Three models include i-Fly Micro Lightning, Sky Eye and Black Swan. The i-Fly Micro Lightning lets you control the helicopter via an app for the iPhone, iPod or iPad. The Sky Eye and Black Swann models house a camera capable of taking still and video images.  Read More

The unmanned K-MAX undergoing testing earlier this year (Image: Lockheed Martin)

The unmanned Kaman K-MAX helicopter has made its first combat resupply mission in Afghanistan. Designed to reduce the reliance on truck convoys that are often targeted by IED (improvised explosive device) strikes when resupplying front-line troops in remote areas and manned aircraft that place their crews in danger, the unmanned aircraft is a modified K-MAX intermeshing rotor helicopter with the ability to lift a payload of over 6,000 pounds (2,721 kg).  Read More

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