Press Release

UPDATED: Clark School Team to Test Human-Powered Helicopter

MEDIA ADVISORY  May 11, 2011

Melissa Corley
301 405 6501


The Gamera team will be attempting flight with an American Helicopter Society judge present at **11 a.m.** on Thursday, May 12.


May 12 Live Stream

The human powered flight attempt will also be fed live by fiber to Verizon's AVOC switch in Washington, D.C. Media wishing to take a live feed of the event should contact:

Tiffany Warnock
Encompass Digital Media

PARKING NOTE: Please take note of parking signs on Thursday. Portions of Lot 4B are unavailable today. If you cannot find a spot there, park in Lot 4J across Paint Branch Drive or in Lot 9 in front of the Comcast Center.

Links to photos and video from May 11's attempts will be posted here:

Photos by Student Team Leader Brandon Bush


View online

WHAT: In a step toward winning the Sikorsky Prize, a team of A. James Clark School of Engineering students will attempt for the first time to test-fly their human-powered helicopter, called Gamera. Gamera has a rotor at each of the four ends of its X-shaped frame, with the pilot’s module suspended at the middle. Each crossbar of the frame is 60 feet long, and each rotor is 42 feet in diameter. Through the use of balsa, foam, mylar, carbon fiber and other lightweight materials, the entire vehicle weighs only 210 pounds, including the student pilot. All power comes from a combination of hand and foot pedaling. If Gamera makes it off the ground, the team has the potential to capture a world record for human-powered helicopter flight with a female pilot on board.

WHO: A team of more than 50 graduate and undergraduate students led by faculty advisors V.T. Nagaraj, Inderjit Chopra and Darryll Pines (dean of the Clark School). The pilot for the tests is University of Maryland life sciences graduate student Judy Wexler. The Alfred Gessow Rotorcraft Center in the Clark School is one of the nation’s top rotorcraft research institutions.

WHEN: Reporters and photographers are invited to watch the team test the vehicle between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. on Wednesday, May 11.

WHERE: Comcast Center Auxiliary Gym, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742
Directions to Parking (CALL AHEAD for parking information)

WHY: The team has been working for two years to compete for the Sikorsky Prize, run by the American Helicopter Society (AHS). The Clark School team is the only team currently sanctioned by the AHS for making an official attempt. No team has succeeded since the prize was first offered in 1980.

Watch a video about the team
Gamera Fact Sheet (opens PDF)
Gamera Test Flight Home
Gessow Rotorcraft Center
Sikorsky Prize