Human Powered Helicopter
Sometimes, you don’t need a reason to take on a challenge. For some people, the whole fun of trying to be the first one to complete a challenging feat is to do something that has never been achieved by the human race. And Inderjit Chopra, along with a team of engineering students from the University of Maryland, used this exact reason to try and win the AHS Igor I. Sikorsky Challenge, which started in 1980.
The $250.000 Challenge
In 1980, the American Helicopter Society came up with a $250,000 challenge to encourage people to make a Human Powered Quadrotor Helicopter. The criteria was to build a Quadrotor Helicopter that will achieve flight duration of 60 seconds at an altitude of 9ft 10 in, while hovering in the air within a 32 ft, 10 in, circle.
In 2008, Inderjit Chopra, who is the head of the Rotorcraft Center at the University of Maryland, headed a team of individuals who wanted to turn this dream into reality. The helicopter project was named “Gamera I”, after a flying turtle that was featured in a Japanese movie.
Since the start of the Gamera project, over 75 engineering from the University of Marylandstudents have worked on it. They have managed to keep breaking their own records, but never managed to achieve the goal to meet the AHS specifications.
The end of a 33 Year old Challenge
On January 2012 AeroVelo, an aeronautical engineering group founded by University of Toronto, took on the AHS Igor I. Sikorsky Challenge after receiving funds to kick-start the project
On June 13, 2013, the 33 year old challenge was manifested by AeroVelo’s Atlas human-powered helicopter by meeting the requirements during a record breaking 64 seconds at a height of 3.3 meters and hovering within the required limit.
AeroVelo’s a company from Canada won the AHS Igor I. Sikorsky Challenge and took the prize money of $250,000 representing the third largest monetary prize in aviation history.
In announcing the award, the executive director of AHS International stated, “We at AHS International congratulate the AeroVelo team on your incredible accomplishment. Like the Wright Brothers, Charles Lindbergh and Igor Sikorsky before you, you have set an aviation milestone that should be forever remembered as a truly remarkable feat of innovative engineering excellence.”