A university team from Maryland is on the verge of creating history when it test-flies the first ever human powered helicopter, Gamera, on Thursday.
This will be the first time when a pedal powered helicopter has been designed and declared ready to use. Simple planes without any engines have been designed earlier but a human powered helicopter has been beyond anyone’s reach.
Gamera, in its X-shaped frame, has a rotor at each of its four ends. The Pilot’s unit is balanced at the middle of the copter. Each of its rotors is 42 feet in diameter and each crossbar of the frame is 60 feet long. The entire contraption weighs only 210 pounds (about 100 kg) although there are quantities of foam, balsa, mylar, carbon fibre and other materials in it.
All the power comes from hand and foot pedaling. It has taken nearly two years and 50 graduate and under graduate students, headad by faculty members V.T. Nagaraj, Inderjit Chopra and Darryll Pinesto, to design the vehicle.
A report said the copter will be flown by a female biology student, Judy Wexler. She was the first choice for the team because she is light weighing 110 pounds (50 kg) and also a competitive cyclist who can pedal furiously with hands and feet.
If the team succeeds in getting Gamera off the ground for even a minute, they will become the first ever team to win the prestigious Sikorsky Prize which was established in 1980 and is one of the biggest challenges for an aerospace engineer.
The first trial will be live streamed online at : http://lecture.umd.edu/detsmediasite/SilverlightPlayer/Default.aspx?peid=dae7b8b7686a4639a0faa0f58ebd08651d