Human-powered aviation (or: “When aeronautical engineers get bored”)

UM's helicopter is made of carbon fiber trusses, and four huge, slow-moving blades. The whole gigantic thing weighs just 79 pounds. (Photo via UM)

J

ust a little while back, we mentioned the Igor Sikorsky prize, a prize for human-powered flight which nobody has won yet. The conditions are simple: build a helicopter that is 100% human-powered, which can rise 3 meters in the air and hover for a full minute, and you win $250,000.

It’s sill un-won, but a team of university students in Maryland hopes to win it soon.

The name of the team’s human-powered helicopter (HPH) is Gamera II, named after the Japanese monster which rivaled Godzilla. Gamera is a jet-powered turtle which spins to fly.

Check out their HPH in the image above. And then watch this video, which shows their world-record, 50 second long flight:


This design takes advantage of ground effect, which gives the
craft additional lift when it’s close to the ground.

Research and work like this is common for grad students, and even undergrads, at universities in Oregon. At OSU, for example, there are the Formula One and Mini Baja racing teams, as well as a great Mars rover team, and many more engineering teams. PSU and other schools in the state have great engineering programs as well, so check them out.

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