August 15, 2012
By Dan Namowitz
The National Aeronautic Association has certified a duration record for human-powered helicopter flight claimed by a team from the University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering for a flight on June 21 in College Park, Md.
Pilot Kyle Gluesenkamp, a Ph.D. candidate in the Clark School’s mechanical engineering department, provided the power, pedaling the program’s lightweight, four-rotor aircraft, Gamera II and remaining airborne for 49.9 seconds. The flight achieved a new record in the human-powered class, rotorcraft subclass, said Art Greenfield, NAA’s director of contests and records.
The team remains focused on refining the aircraft’s design to capture the $250,000 American Helicopter Society’s Sikorsky Prize, said Clark School Dean Darryll Pines in a news release after the June flight. Earning the Sikorsky prize would require Gamera II to fly a full minute in a hover, reach a height of three meters at some point during the minute, and remain within a 10-square-meter area during the flight.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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