November 21, 2011
By Alton K. Marsh
Photo credit: Brandon Bush, AB2Imagery
A record for human-powered helicopter flight has been certified by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale for two flights made by University of Maryland students and Judy Wexler, a lightweight but powerful bicyclist. The students, some of them now graduates, built a machine they dubbed Gamera and set world records earlier this year for flight duration and flight duration with a female pilot.
The FAI certified the May 12 flight of 4.2 seconds, and the July 13 flight of 11.4 seconds, which supersedes the first.
Gamera was designed and built by a team of 50-some students at the university’s Clark School of Engineering, and piloted by biology student Judy Wexler. The team is currently working on a new vehicle in pursuit of the Sikorsky Prize. The new vehicle will be lighter and more efficient that the original. The team hopes to have it completed in early 2012.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
AOPA expressed concern in a meeting with town officials from East Hampton, New York, that restrictions proposed to curb airport noise “overwhelmingly” generated by transient commercial flights would unfairly burden traditional airport users.
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