UPDATE, 8:20 p.m., July 14: Hi-res video now available:
College Park, Md.--On July 13, the students on the Gamera human-powered helicopter team from the University of Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering completed their scheduled summer flight session with a new unofficial flight duration of 12.4 seconds. If verified by the National Aeronautic Association, this new time will shatter the team's previous 4.2-second U.S. national record set in May.
Between the May flights and yesterday's, the students enhanced Gamera's cockpit and transmission and added LEDs to its landing gear that turn on when the vehicle is off the ground. Judy Wexler, the biology student who piloted the record-setting flight in May, was also on board in the most recent session.
"Our students demonstrate the combination of technical expertise and determination to succeed that will bring continued technological progress to our nation and our world," stated Clark School Dean Darryll Pines. "During these flight tests they faced formidable obstacles when Gamera suffered its first significant structural problems, but they worked through the night to repair these and the next day achieved our best flights. Their spirit fills me with pride."
The team plans further flights in the fall to move closer to winning the Sikorsky Prize, established by the American Helicopter Society in 1980. The prize requires a flight of one minute, during which the vehicle attains an altitude of three meters at some point and remains within a 10 square meter area. No team has yet come close to winning the prize, now valued at $250,000.
"Gamera" is the name of a giant flying turtle in Japanese science fiction movies, and was selected as the name for the Clark School vehicle because the University of Maryland's mascot is the diamondback terrapin and because the team wanted to give homage to the Nihon University team. Detailed information about the craft may be found at http://www.agrc.umd.edu/gamera/index.html.
About the Gamera Team
For more than two years, a team of 50 Clark School graduate and undergraduate students has worked on the design, construction, and testing of the Gamera human-powered helicopter. For the names of team members, see http://www.agrc.umd.edu/gamera/team.html
About the Sikorsky Prize
The Sikorsky Prize was established by the American Helicopter Society, International, to inspire teams and individuals to advance knowledge of helicopter flight and to honor helicopter pioneer Igor Sikorsky. The prize has never been awarded to date. For more information about the Sikorsky Prize, see http://www.agrc.umd.edu/gamera/sikorsky-prize.html.
About the A. James Clark School of Engineering
The University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering is a premier program, ranked among the top 20 in the world. Located just a few miles from Washington, D.C., the Clark School is at the center of a constellation of high-tech companies and federal laboratories, offering students and faculty access to unique professional opportunities.
Our broad spectrum of academic programs, including the world’s only accredited undergraduate fire protection engineering program, is complemented by a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem, early hands-on educational experiences, and participation in national and international competitions.
The Clark School is leading research advancements in aerospace, bioengineering, robotics, nanotechnology, disaster resilience, energy and sustainability, and cybersecurity. From the universal product code to satellite radio, SMS text messaging to the implantable insulin pump, our students, faculty, and alumni are engineering life-changing innovations for millions. Learn more at www.eng.umd.edu.