Home > Awesome Science, Physics > The Human Powered Helicopter Flies!

The Human Powered Helicopter Flies!

Gamera Team

Judy Wexler in the Gamera cockpit.

Earlier this week, I wrote about the University of Maryland’s ‘Gamera’ project. The engineering team there have designed and built a human-powered helicopter over the past two and a half years and were finally ready make it fly this week.

On Wednesday May 11, the team made their first attempt. They were unable to get the chopper off the ground, so minor repairs were performed and a second attempt was made yesterday, May 12.

After a few attempts, the pilot, Judy Wexler, was able to get the helicopter off the ground for a total of 4 seconds. (In the video below, she gets off the ground at about 3:20)

It is not quite what they had hoped. The ultimate goal was to win the Sirkosky Prize, but that would have required the chopper to fly for at least 1 minute and reach a height of at least 3 meters.

This is still a historic flight, however. It is the first human-powered helicopter to be piloted by a woman, and assuming the review of the flight video goes according to plan, the first to be certified by the National Aeronautics Association.

Darryl Pines, Dean of the A. James Clark School of Engineering, had this to stay about the success:

I am incredibly proud of this amazing feat of engineering and physical prowess, and grateful to faculty mentors Drs. Inderjit Chopra, V.T. Nagaraj, and J. Gordon Leishman. Today’s flight of Gamera is a fitting symbol of our excellence in rotorcraft research and education, and our first step toward winning the Sikorsky Prize.

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