They’ve done it again. The 40 Clark School graduate and undergraduate students who designed, built and flew the Gamera II human-powered helicopter (see E@M, Fall 2011), set a new record for flight duration at 49.9 seconds, bettering the team’s 2011 Gamera I world record of 11.4 seconds by more than 400 percent. The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) announced the national record on August 9 and has submitted the flight to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale for consideration for a world record. But the team wanted more than world records. It continued to pursue two key goals: to exceed the 60-second flight duration requirement of the American Helicopter Society’s (AHS) Sikorsky Human-Powered Helicopter Competition and to climb to a significant altitude, perhaps even approaching the three-meter AHS Sikorsky Competition elevation requirement. It now looks like those goals are within reach. On August 28 the team achieved an unofficial flight duration of 65 seconds. If validated by the NAA, the flight will set new U.S. and probably world flight duration records. Just days later, on September 1, having repaired the craft after a major crash, the team flew Gamera II to an elevation of over nine feet, far higher than any team in history.
Clark School Dean Darryll Pines is thrilled, but not surprised, at the team’s success. “You need smart students, inspirational mentors, innovative design and dogged determination. But you also need professional practices–to test and refine your design and pass on what you’ve learned to the next students coming in. That’s how you create a record-setting program.”
WHAT’S NEXT FOR GAMERA? • Look for another flight of Gamera II later this year or early 2013. • The team will further refine the design, exploring options for reducing drift during flight and improving performance of the helicopter.
FOR THE LATEST INFORMATION ON GAMERA’S PROGRESS, VISIT www.agrc.umd.edu/gamera/.
PHOTO CREDITS: EARL ZUBKOFF AND ANDREW RIVERS
A. JAMES CLARK SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING
GLENN L. MARTIN INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY