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UMD Goes for $250K Human-Powered Helicopter Prize

February 26, 2013

Lee Tune 301-405-4679 (office), 240-328-4914 (cell)
Ted Knight 301-405-3596 (office), 410-703-4685 (cell)
Beth Cavanaugh 301-257-0073 (on-site Thursday)


On Feb. 27-28 the University of Maryland's record-setting human-powered helicopter, and the student team that designed, built and flies it, will be in the Baltimore Convention Center for flight attempts to try and win a long-unreachable prize - the $250,000 AHS Sikorsky Prize. The flights will be observed by officials from the National Aeronautic Association (NAA) and the American Helicopter Society (AHS).



On Wednesday, Feb. 27 and Thursday Feb. 28, the team's flight attempts will open to media and can be photographed or video recorded only during two media availability periods each day:  9–11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. During these periods media must remain in the media area designated by caution tape on the floor unless escorted to other areas of the floor, between flights. During some of the periods between flights, Gamera Team members will come over to the media area to offer interviews. If one of the Gamera flights meets or exceeds the prize requirements, team members will be available following the winning flight.


Baltimore Convention Center, Exhibit Hall G. Media entrance is off of the circle drive on Sharp Street.


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

With a brand new control system installed on their Gamera helicopter, the 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 flight of over 60 seconds in which the vehicle reaches 3 meters altitude (10 ft.) and remains within a 10 meter x 10 meter box. Since August, Team Gamera has been hard at work developing and implementing a means of controlling the helicopter—something which proved necessary during testing—in order to remain within the required 10 meter box.