WASHINGTON: University of Maryland students are all set to make history this Wednesday by test-flying their human-powered helicopter for the first time.

With hopes of propelling them towards winning the Sikorsky Prize, a team of more than 50 graduate and undergraduate students from the A. James Clark School of Engineering will be taking their helicopter, Gamera, for its maiden voyage, reports the Discovery News.

Gamera has rotors at each of the four ends of its X-shaped frame. Each crossbar of the frame is 60-feet long and each rotor is 42 feet in diameter. Under the frame sits a pilot’s model, where a student will power the helicopter with a combination of hand and foot pedalling.

Gamera weighs-in at a feathery 210 pounds, student pilot included, and owes its lightweight to the balsa wood, foam, mylar and carbon fiber used in construction.

If Gamera can hover for 60 seconds, reach a height of three meters and remain within a 10-meter box from lift off, the team will take home the Sikorsky Challenge’s 250,000 dollars prize. Doing so will also nab the team a world record for first human-powered helicopter powered by a female.

The pilot for the test flight will be University of Maryland life science graduate student, Judy Wexler.

By Gary Mortimer

Founder and Editor of sUAS News | Gary Mortimer has been a commercial balloon pilot for 25 years and also flies full-size helicopters. Prior to that, he made tea and coffee in air traffic control towers across the UK as a member of the Royal Air Force.