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Clark School Press Release Story

Clark School Team Unofficially Satisfies Two Sikorsky Prize Requirements with 65-Second Gamera Human-Powered Helicopter Flight

Flight Reached Height of Two Feet Towards 10-Foot Requirement


Melissa Corley
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Pilot Henry Enerson takes Gamera II up to 8 feet in the air during a flight on August 28, 2012 (Photo by Earl Zubkoff, Essential Eye Photographics).

Above: 65-second Gamera flight on August 28, 2012.

Above: Eight-foot Gamera flight on August 28, 2012.

LANDOVER, Md. -- Students on the Gamera human-powered helicopter team at the University of Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering have unofficially satisfied two of the three American Helicopter Society Sikorsky Prize competition requirements with a flight that unofficially lasted 65 seconds, stayed within a 10 square meter area and hovered at two feet of altitude. This flight also establishes new unofficial U.S. and world flight duration records.

Pilot Colin Gore, a materials science and engineering graduate student at the Clark School, was in the cockpit for the flight.

"The key to our students' success is the professionalism they have brought to every aspect of this enormously difficult challenge," said Clark School Dean Darryll J. Pines. "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.  They would compare favorably to professional engineers anywhere."

The flight was accomplished in a revamped Gamera II vehicle. Since the flights earlier this summer, each blade has been extended and the vehicle now measures 114 feet across from blade tip to blade tip. The structure arms have been enlarged to accommodate the larger rotors.

Also, a new, more ergonomic cockpit has been built. Sonar altimeters have been added to the rotors and the cockpit to measure the height of the vehicle when it's in the air. The transmission has also been rebuilt, allowing smoother power delivery.

To win the Sikorsky Prize, the team must also achieve a height of 3 meters during a flight of at least 60 seconds that stays within the prescribed 10 square meter area. The Gamera team will work through the week to meet the competition requirements.

More Information: 

Gamera Project Home
Gamera II

The AHS Sikorsky Prize

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