UMD's Team Gamera Sets New Record for Human Powered Helicopter Flight Duration

UMD's Team Gamera Sets New Record for Human Powered Helicopter Flight Duration

PR Newswire

COLLEGE PARK, Md., Oct. 31, 2013

Team's achievements celebrated at event attended by officials from Sikorsky,
United Technologies Corporation, AHS International

COLLEGE PARK, Md., Oct. 31, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- University of
Maryland students from Team Gamera have unofficially set a world record of 97
seconds for the duration of a human powered helicopter flight.

The announcement came at an event on Saturday, October 26 celebrating the
team's accomplishments, which was attended by senior officials from the
Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, United Technologies Corporation, the American
Helicopter Society (AHS) International, as well as University of Maryland
President Wallace Loh. At the same event, Sikorsky and United Technologies
Corporation representatives presented a trophy and a check for $50,000 to
honor the team's achievements.

"The outstanding achievements of Team Gamera's record-breaking flights with
their human powered helicopter as part of the AHS Sikorsky Human Powered
Helicopter Competition are a perfect example of how a grand challenge to do
the impossible can spark innovation and learning," said Vice President of
Research and Engineering of Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation Mark F. Miller.

Team Gamera's groundbreaking flight surpasses the previously submitted
duration flight record of 86 seconds by the Canadian Aerovelo Team, which took
place just two days before the Team Gamera flight. Team Gamera's 97-second
flight time has been submitted to both the National Aeronautic Association
(NAA) and the Federation Aeronautique Internationale for certification as a
U.S. and world record.

NAA officials were on hand to witness the record-setting flight, which was
achieved on September 25, 2013 during a final round of testing the team
performed at the Prince George's County Sports and Learning Complex in
Hyattsville, Md. Team Gamera had recently recruited new test pilots, including
competitive cyclist Justin Mauch, who powered the helicopter on its 97-second

"Reaching this new unofficial flight duration record is a testament to the
fearlessness of our engineering students," said Clark School Dean and
Farvardin Professor of Aerospace Engineering Darryll Pines. "They continue to
push the extremes of what is considered possible for human powered helicopter

At the celebration event on October 26, the Team Gamera's achievements and
contributions to human powered helicopter flight and rotorcraft innovation
were honored, as well as their contributions to the University of Maryland

Since August of 2008, the Gamera Team has been engaged in an ongoing effort to
advance innovation in human powered helicopter flight. The team has included
more than 100 undergraduate and graduate students from the University of
Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering. The students, along with
their faculty advisors Inderjit Chopra and V.T. Nagaraj, have collectively
invested thousands of hours into the project, as the group has continued to
reach new landmark achievements over the past five years.

The team's achievements began with a world record for human powered helicopter
flight duration of 4.2 seconds in May 2011. From that first, small step, the
team slowly built on their accomplishments, pushing the boundaries of what was
thought to be possible in their chase for the AHS Sikorsky Prize, which
promised $250,000 to the first human powered helicopter team that could
achieve a 60-second flight that reached 3 meters, or about 10 feet in height,
while hovering in the same 10 x 10 meter area. Team Aerovelo, inspired by
Gamera's early achievements, ultimately won the prize, but the Gamera Team has
set the bar with their flight duration record.

"The AHS Sikorsky Prize wasn't intended to produce a practical human powered
helicopter," said Executive Director of AHS International Mike Hirschberg. "We
set up the prize to inspire the next generation of vertical flight pioneers,
and we were tremendously successful in this goal. But, perhaps unexpectedly,
the world was inspired even more by the incredible accomplishments of the
University of Maryland's Gamera team."

The celebration event for Team Gamera capped the end of Mpact Week, a four-day
showcase highlighting the University of Maryland's innovations in engineering.
For more information, visit

For More information:

Video of Team Gamera's 97-Second Flight:
Gamera Project Website:

Alfred Gessow Rotorcraft Center:

SOURCE A. James Clark School of Engineering

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