Want to see history made in the blink of an eye? About two weeks ago we wrote about Gamera, the University of Maryland's human-powered helicopter that is chasing after the Sikorsky Prize, a $250,000 purse offered to anyone who can meet a set of ambitious flight criteria with a human-powered helicopter. Gamera isn't there yet, but with pilot Judy Wexler pounding away at the pedals the team did hover for about four seconds, setting a world record for the first woman to achieve human-powered helicopter flight.
The official statistics on the flight are still pending from the National Aeronautics Association (and as such the record is still unofficial), but it appears the helicopter got off the gymnasium floor for about four seconds while putting 3-5 inches between its rotors and the floor. That's not too shabby for an aircraft that weighs 200 pounds including the pilot. But as it pertains to the Sikorsky Prize, the team still has a ways to go. The quarter-million is reserved for the first helicopter that stays aloft for 60 seconds and reaches an altitude of ten feet.
But compared to other human-powered helicopters, just getting off the ground is extremely significant. The current world record, set by a Japanese team at the Nihon Aero Student Group in 1994, flew for just under 20 seconds and peaked at 8 inches above the ground. A tweak here, a tightening of the screws there, and Gamera may be on its way to topping the all-time flight record.
See history made below. The actual flight begins right around the 3:00 mark.
Well done. Hope they keep the momentum going and push for the world record held by Japan. The Sikorsky Prize seems out of reach because of the height requirement but who knows ... one or two more innovations and it may be possible.
They should first fill the helicopter wings with low-density hyperspace energy to make it weightless to begin with. If the pilot did Qi Gong breathing beforehand, she would be weightless also and float upward.
Repost for JohnStC:
@Johnny Saint: I'm the hyper spacial being putting all these ideas in your head (I also did the bible writers too, look how well that turned out!). Anyway, it's been a pretty good couple of millennia fucking with you guys, but I'm back on my meds now, and my hyper-doctors say it would be healthier to quit. Sorry, so long and thanks for all the fish.
@KatieSaucey - You are very naughty and saucy copying your comment to this page. You need to be more original and take life seriously. Important things are happening on this planet that you need to be aware of.
*sniff sniff* OK, sorry, I'll just go now and cuddle with my ponies...
Anyway...(got a bit distracted there), if they are serious about the prise, might it not make more sense to use a lightweight male for a pilot/power plant? According to: [A. E. J. Miller, J. D. MacDougall, M. A. Tarnopolsky & D. G. Sale (1993). "Gender differences in strength and muscle fiber characteristics"] (wiki ref, don't shoot) "Females (on average) are about 52 percent as strong as males in the upper body, and about 66 percent as strong in the lower". I realize that Ms. Wexler is most likely in better than average shape, but it sounds every advantage is going to be needed to pull this off. Improvement factors of 15x duration, 30x altitude, could prove tough to meet.
BTW this design looks essentially the same as the Japanese one from '94 (google "yuri 1"), even the weight is the same (assuming ~120lb pilot for American). At least make some improvements (ie. cut weight) if you use a 15 yr old design.
@katieSaucey - Now you are thinking! The purpose of using a woman was to set the record for the first woman to achieve human-powered helicopter flight.
Notice that by squeezing your abdominal muscles you can bring hot air up through your lungs. Then breathe cold air through your nose to create vortices. The two airstreams will merge to create vortices over a range of frequency and temperature. This is known as Qi Gong breathing. This technique has the effect of changing Planck's constant h such that the body goes out of dimension. This in turn brings in low-density hyperspace energy that makes the body weightless. Jumping off the ground allows you to float up in the air. If you carry two hand fans with you and flap them like a helicopter, you could capture the $250,000 prize before this group does. I'm asking 10% and I won't make fun of you again. Agreed?
LOL ... I guess you don't need the prize money yourself, JohnStClair ... so no need for 10% either.
those are averages. What we need is pound for pound stats. I seemed to have heard long ago that women had stronger legs pound for pound but don't know where I heard that so perhaps it is bogus.
This team has to take all the same steps the Japanese team took. If this was indeed their first attempt as it seems, they are not as far from the record as the time indicates.
Life is srs business.
Maybe not. Maybe I just laughed, hard. You totally got those bible-writer-guys. Good times.
I have seen my puppy run around the room and chase her tail so fast, I believe she lifted off the ground. She did not even have wings. It was incrediable to see! AMAZING!!
This thing needs a transmission, like a 10 speed bike. Look at how fast she's pedaling, change gears already!! Put in a gear system and this thing would take off like a rocket.
Exactly my thoughts, is it against the rules to get some gears in. In this case its not even strength she needs, its ridiculous stamina. Even if it was a set of gears, but instead one really tough gear, once it gets going I would think there would be better results.
more gears more wieght, they could put a taller gear in but really now, don't you think this would have occurred to them?
The woman vs man pilot becomes quite tricky because you have to consider power to weight. Sure men are on average stronger than woman and posses more endurance, however that comes as a weight disadvantage. If this 120lbs woman is in decent shape then perhapse it was a good choice over someone like me who has very strong legs and plent of endurance(thanks to all the ruckmarches with 60+lbs of gear) but I weigh 165lbs. That 45lbs difference is going to go along way in this type of machine. Lets take averages and say I'm 34% stronger in the lower body than she is (based on the 66% provided by Katie) but the weight difference is 38% in her favor. Weight has more weight here lol!
Gearing could be very usefull. Again there is the weight arguement BUT with the added torque multiplication due to steeper gears it could be worth the couple extra pounds.
i think it needs a VERY lightweight nuvinci shifting system. that way the pilot could change input-output ratio.
I think that the gear used in the experiment is already optimized for the pilot. There is no need to shift gears which ordinarily are used to make adjustments when the load changes (e.g. going up a hill). If the load is constant, only one gear is needed in my opinion.
For each person there is a cadence that is optimal for energy production. I'm guessing that the one we saw in the video is ideal for Judy Wexler.
first record for pedal powered was 1980 february magazine
Do not really understand the rules, must the pilot power helicopter wings directly or could he run a generator that would fill a large capacitor, which would drive the engines on wings?
The wings are large, also important is the shape, how air flows around them, so I was wondering how it would work if they would be imposed in several layers, one over another, such as on bi-planes.
Or maybe deign it with pumps to propel the compressed air vertically through a wide tube above the pilot onto the large wings, to turn them faster.
The most beautiful I find the weight, I have been working on aircraft that you can just wear as a clothes and run with your own energy, in combination with other natural resources from the environment. This would allow true freedom of movement and only hope that someday it would be allowed to fly around. Imagine to dress up an aircraft, put a snack in your pockets and go on a trip around the world, without money and all other unnecesarie rubbish ;)