COLLEGE PARK, Md.--Students from the University of Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering set an unofficial world record of 50 seconds for the duration of a human-powered helicopter flight, far surpassing their 2011 world record of 11.4 seconds with Gamera I and any unofficial flights of prior years. The time will be submitted to the National Aeronautic Association by judge Kris Maynard. The validation process will likely take a few weeks.
"Over the last few days we have witnessed top Clark School student engineers flying an amazing craft they designed and built, resulting in an unofficial new world record of 50 seconds," stated Clark School Dean Darryll Pines. "If you want to know where to find the future or engineering and great new technologies that will make our lives better, this is it."
Dean Pines, together with faculty mentors Inder Chopra and VT Nagaraj, challenged the team to win the American Helicopter Society's Igor I. Sikorsky Human-Powered Helicopter Competition, which requires that a human-powered helicopter fly for 60 seconds, achieve an altitude of three meters sometime during that time, and remain with a 10 square meter area. With its 50-second flight, Gamera II has come closer to the flight duration requirement than any other craft.
The flight occurred on Thursday evening, piloted by Kyle Gluesenkamp. Gluesenkamp is a Ph.D. candidate in the Clark School's mechanical engineering department. He was an alternate pilot for Gamera I. The other pilots who flew Gamera II during this flight session were Colin Gore and Dennis Bodewits.
The team will now continue to refine their craft and explore ways to achieve the altitude requirement of the AHS Sikorsky Prize.
The Clark School of Engineering, situated on the rolling, 1,500-acre University of Maryland campus in College Park, Md., is one of the premier engineering schools in the U.S., with graduate and undergraduate education programs ranked in or near the Top 20. In 2012, the Clark School was ranked 14th in the world by the Institute of Higher Education and Center for World-Class Universities in its Academic Ranking of World Universities. Three faculty members affiliated with the Clark School were inducted into the National Academy of Engineering in 2010.
The school, which offers 13 graduate programs and 12 undergraduate programs, including degree and certification programs tailored for working professionals, is home to one of the most vibrant research programs in the country. The Clark School garnered research awards of $171 million last year. With emphasis in key areas such as energy, nanotechnology and materials, bioengineering, robotics, communications and networking, life cycle and reliability engineering, project management, intelligent transportation systems and aerospace, the Clark School is leading the way toward the next generations of engineering advances.