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U. of Maryland's Human-Powered Helicopter Aims to Make Aviation History Next Week


Two years, 50 graduate students, countless man hours, and mankind’s insatiable need to prove he can defy gravity will all come to a head on Wednesday when a team of University of Maryland Students attempts to fly its human-powered helicopter, Gamera. They won’t be flying very high, but the payoff could be tremendous; hanging in the balance is a world record, an aviation “first,” and a claim to the $250,000 Sikorsky Challenge.

Constructed of lightweight balsa wood, foam, mylar, and carbon fiber among other things, Gamera is something of a feat in engineering. The backbone is a massive X-frame, with each crossbar measuring 60 feet. At the ends of each crossbar sits a 42-foot rotor powered by the human pilot/engine, who pedals furiously from a module suspended from the center of the X-frame.

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