August 2011 - Spokes Magazine

August 2011 - Spokes Magazine

Helicopter Team Hovers Closer to Sikorsky Prize

College Park, Md.--On July 13, the students on the Gamera

human-powered helicopter team from the University of

Maryland's Clark School of Engineering (which was the

subject of a feature in last month’s SPOKES Magazine, see

www.spokesmagazine, click on archives and open July

2011 issue) completed their scheduled summer flight session

with a new unofficial flight duration of 12.4 seconds.

If verified by the National Aeronautic Association, this

new time will shatter the team's previous 4.2-second U.S.

national record set in May.

Between the May and July flights, the students enhanced

Gamera's cockpit and transmission and added light emitting

diodes (LEDs) to its landing gear that turn on when

the vehicle is off the ground.

Judy Wexler, the biology student and local road racer who

races for Team Artemis, who piloted the record-setting flight

in May, was also on board in the most recent session.

"Our students demonstrate the combination of technical

expertise and determination to succeed that will bring

continued technological progress to our nation and our

world," stated Clark School Dean Darryll Pines. "During

these flight tests they faced formidable obstacles when

Gamera suffered its first significant structural problems,

but they worked through the night to repair these and

the next day achieved our best flights. Their spirit fills me

with pride."

The team plans further flights in the fall to move closer to

winning the Sikorsky Prize, established by the American

Helicopter Society in 1980. The prize requires a flight of

one minute, during which the vehicle attains an altitude

of three meters at some point and remains within a 10

square meter area. No team has yet come close to winning

the prize, now valued at $250,000.

High-res video available:


About Gamera

"Gamera" is the name of a giant flying turtle in Japanese

science fiction movies, and was selected as the name for

the Clark School vehicle because the University of Maryland's

mascot is the diamondback terrapin and because

the team wanted to give homage to the Nihon University

team. Detailed information about the craft may be found


About the Gamera Team

For more than two years, a team of 50 Clark School

graduate and undergraduate students has worked on the

design, construction, and testing of the Gamera humanpowered

helicopter. For the names of team members, see

Howard County Mt. Biking Skills Area Approved, Fundraiser Planned

by joe foley and chris eatough

A 5,000 square foot mountain biking skills area has been

approved for creation at Rockburn Branch Park, which

sits adjacent the popular Patapsco Valley State Park. The

petition for this major new addition to the local mountain

bike scene was requested by members of the Mid-Atlantic

Off-Road Enthusiasts (MORE) advocacy group, in partnership

with Howard County, Md.

The conceptual design for the park includes three downhill

runs for beginner, intermediate, and advanced riders and a

pump track– a smooth, circular dirt rolling track designed

for bicyclists of all skill levels. It will also feature benches

and picnic tables for visitors.

“The skills area will be a welcome addition to Rockburn

Branch Park,” said Melanie Nystrom, a volunteer who

helped coordinate the project. “Parents can watch their

children safely practice the technical side of mountain biking,

or they can jump on a bike and practice with them.

And, they can have fun and exercise in the process.”

The skills area will also be part of the International Mountain

Biker Association (IMBA)’s Gateway Trails project,

an innovative system of youth and family-friendly trails

across the United States. When designing trails, IMBA

incorporates sustainable designs that protect the flora and

fauna while enabling a variety of users to experience a

park's natural beauty.

At Rockburn, area children, families and riders will volunteer

during the skills area trail design.

Jason Wells of IMBA trail solutions is currently completing

the detailed design based on input from a public meeting

where he gathered input from the community.

MORE will fund construction of the skills area, which is

expected to cost in the realm of $50,000 to complete. It

will be the first facility in Howard County where children

and adults can hone their mountain biking skills.

A fundraiser in mid-August is also planned to help fund

the project. IMBA and its local affiliate MORE will host a

family picnic August 14 from 12 to 6 p.m. to raise money

for the project. The picnic, to be held at the Rockburn

Branch pavilion off Montgomery Road, will include food,

drinks, guided mountain bike rides, a children’s bike

rodeo and a raffle. Admission to the family picnic is free,

but guests can contribute by purchasing tickets for food

and drinks. Organizers will also be selling $25 raffle tickets

at the picnic for a trip for two to Moab, Utah through Trek

Travel, a Trek/Fisher 29er mountain bike and a Giant Brass

mountain bike.

For more information, call Melanie Nystrom at (410) 591-3286.

Concurrently, MORE is soliciting donations to cover the

cost of construction through their website. MORE is a

501c3 organization and donations are tax deductible. To

donate or find additional information on the project visit

the Rockburn Skills Area page on the MORE website --

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14 August 2011

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