Last September, the Gamera II team
from the A. James Clark School of Engineering got so close to claiming the Sikorsky Prize of US$250,000 for human-powered helicopter flight that the American Helicopter Society must surely have been preparing to pull the dust covers off the safe and hand over the cash. Gamera II features a huge cross-shaped frame with enormous rotors at each of its four points, which are powered by sustained hand and foot pumping from a pilot at the center. It's a design that's been used by many of those attempting to nab the elusive prize (including AeroVelo's Atlas
), but Georgia's Kenneth Huff has a rather more compact vision for success.
The efforts of Maryland University's Gamera II
team in snaring the US$250,000 Sikorsky Prize for human-powered helicopter flight have garnered much attention (not least from Gizmag) in recent months, and with good reason. But the team is by no means alone in chasing down its sadistic requirements set by the American Helicopter Society in 1980. First tested in August, The Atlas helicopter, by human-powered vehicle specialists AeroVelo, is the latest machine to enter the fray, and has already flown successfully, becoming only the fourth human-powered helicopter to do so.
The Gamera II team at the A. James Clark School of Engineering has certainly been keeping officials at the National Aeronautic Association (NAA) very busy this year. Kyle Gluesenkamp from the school's mechanical engineering department pedaled and cranked his way into the record books in June
with a new official national record for human-powered helicopter flight with a time of 49.9 seconds, and now that too has been smashed. A new venue, and some vital modifications to the huge craft has resulted in the magic Sikorsky Prize 60-second barrier being surpassed for the very first time. Not only that, but Gamera II has also been taken up beyond eight feet before a serious crash landing put a stop to more record attempts.
The unofficial human-powered helicopter flight record set by Kyle Gluesenkamp from the A. James Clark School of Engineering's Gamera II
team on June 21 2012 has just been ratified by the National Aeronautic Association (NAA). The new national record has now been submitted to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale for approval as a new world record.
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).
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?