Aircraft

Solar-powered helicopter flies into aviation history

Solar-powered helicopter flies...
Michelle Mahon rides in the Solar Gamera, with Tyler DeGraw at the controls
Michelle Mahon rides in the Solar Gamera, with Tyler DeGraw at the controls
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Michelle Mahon rides in the Solar Gamera, with Tyler DeGraw at the controls
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Michelle Mahon rides in the Solar Gamera, with Tyler DeGraw at the controls

As some readers may recall, several years ago a group of students from the University of Maryland achieved the world's longest human-powered helicopter flight. In 2014, a new team of undergrads took over the project and began converting the aircraft to solar-electric power. It made its first purely sun-powered flight late last month.

Originally named the Gamera, the helicopter is now appropriately known as the Solar Gamera. Although little has been provided in the way of technical details, the aircraft is powered solely by four banks of solar panels, with lift provided by four sets of rotor blades. It measures 100 ft (30.5 m) square.

On August 26th, it successfully carried a passenger over one foot (0.3 m) into the air, staying airborne for nine seconds. According to the team, once its electronic control system is better able to compensate for drift, that duration figure should rise significantly.

"Today you are seeing the first successful flights of the Gamera Solar-Powered Helicopter," said team member William Staruk. "You are seeing aviation history being made in the history of green aviation and rotary blade aviation."

The record-setting flight was captured in the video below.

Source: University of Maryland via Nexus Media

Historic Flight

6 comments
Bill Bennett
no brain bucket? I realize we are dealing with low speeds and altitude, still, wear a brain bucket if you are gonna be around these rock tosser props.
Gaëtan Mahon
I'd rather call this a Multi-Copter ( Quad to be specific ) than a Helicopter. One that appears to heavily rely on the ground effect.
DavidMGorjup
It's not a helicopter. It's a ground effect vehicle. Only when it can be flown out of ground effect can it be called a helicopter. Good luck.
ezeflyer
Why not combine human power with solar power?
Riaanh
Well done to the students!!!
SaysMe
Well, not much control, love to see it skyhigh...