Students Claim Two Human-Powered Helicopter Sikorsky Prize Requirements
August 29, 2012 - Students at the University of Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering claim to have satisfied two of the three American Helicopter Society Sikorsky Prize competition requirements with a flight Tuesday in their Gamera II human-powered helicopter.
To win the Sikorsky Prize, a flight must achieve a height of 3 meters during a flight lasting at least 60 seconds that stays within a 10-square-meter area. One flight Tuesday unofficially lasted 65 seconds and stayed within a 10-square-meter area, both figures establishing new U.S. and world flight duration records when verified. Another shorter flight rose to 8 feet above the ground.
"Our students are not only highly creative engineers but are also able to build on past successes in a systematic way, learning and improving as they go," said Clark School Dean Darryll J. Pines. "They would compare favorably to professional engineers anywhere."
Tuesday flights were done in the revamped Gamera II, piloted by grad student Colin Gore. Since Gamera II's previous test flights, each blade has been extended, and the vehicle now measures 114 feet across from blade tip to blade tip. The structure arms have also been enlarged to accommodate larger rotors.
Additional changes include ergonomic improvements for the pilot, sonar altimeters for the rotors, and a rebuilt transmission for more consistent power.
The American Helicopter Society Sikorsky Prize purse is $250,000.
Watch videos from Tuesday's flights:
65-second Gamera II flight
Eight-foot Gamera II flight