On April 27-28, 2013, the University of Maryland’s record-setting human-powered helicopter team flew their Gamera helicopter in the Prince George's County Sports and Learning Complex in Landover, MD in an attempt to win a long-unreachable prize -- the $250,000 American Helicopter Society (AHS) Sikorsky Prize.

The team had a flight of about 58 seconds, but in the end, the students were not able to achieve a "perfect" flight that would satisfy all of the American Helicopter Society Sikorsky Prize requirements with regard to flight duration, altitude, and hover space. The team experienced some damage to their helicopter blades on flight attempts that required repairs, which had an impact on what they were able to accomplish over the weekend.

The flights were observed by officials from the National Aeronautic Association (NAA), AHS, and Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. The Gamera team is currently in a tight race with the Canadian AeroVelo team to see which team can achieve the AHS Sikorsky Prize requirements first. The team is planning to regroup and will look into opportunities for future flight attempts in their continued pursuit of the AHS Sikorsky Prize.

In August 2012, Team Gamera set an officially certified world record for duration (65.1 seconds) of a human powered helicopter with their Gamera II XR aircraft, and an unofficial world record for altitude (9 feet). Both flights were significant improvements over all previous human powered helicopter flights and garnered widespread national and international attention.

Gamera's team of 51 graduate and undergraduate UMD students now has its sights set on winning the prestigious AHS Sikorsky Prize (, which has remained unclaimed since its inception in 1980. The prize requires a "perfect flight" of over 60 seconds in which the vehicle reaches 3 meters altitude (10 ft.) and remains hovering within a 10 meter x 10 meter box.

On Friday, the Gamera team was featured on the cover of the Wall Street Journal. Watch the WSJ video below:

More details about the Gamera team's quest for the AHS Sikorsky Prize appear below.


Gamera Site:

Live Gamera Updates on Twitter:

Op-Ed by UMD's Clark School of Engineering Dean Dr. Darryll Pines on Importance of Competitions to Spur Innovation:

Recent Gamera News:

Popular Mechanics:
Two Teams, One Dream: The Human-Powered Helicopter

UMD News:


Photo Gallery:

March 28, 2013

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