Human Powered Helicopter Makes Record Flight
Leonardo Da Vinci gave the concept of human powered helicopter and now a team of University of Maryland Students has made it a reality, breaking a flight duration record.
The helicopter is called the Gamera II and it has four rotor blades. It is 105 feet across and weighs around 71 pounds only. It gets its power from the pilot, who controls it via a system of cables. The helicopter managed a flight of 50 seconds. The last record was only of 11.4 seconds which was set last year Gamera I. It would be interesting to know that the Wright brothers first flight was about 12 seconds long only. So these guys have done an excellent job.
This helicopter was built at the Alfred Gessow Rotocraft Center, part of the university’s school of engineering by the students for a the $250,000 Sikorsky Prize, given by the American Helicopter Society. The winning design has to hover about 10 feet off the ground for 60 seconds. They didn’t manage to fill out the requirements for the prize, but they have come closer than any team before.
More flights are planned for August and these will be observed by the National Aeronautic Association, which will certify the record.
There is still a problem of drift. Dennis Bodewits, an assistant research scientist in the astronomy department and one of the pilots, said that the size of the room can limit the tests because the helicopter drifts too close to a wall. But flights of 30 seconds are becoming standard, and the group is working to optimize the drive train to get more power.