Friday, September 24, 2010

Bird-like Aircraft Flaps Wings To Sustain Flight

human powered wing flapping aircraft
Credit: Todd Reichert, University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies
Last August, aviation history was made. The worlds first workable ornithopter from the University of Toronto--set a world record for sustaining flight for 19.3 seconds. It flew a total of 145 meters at an average speed of 25.6 kilometres per hour. It's not a flight that you would need to pack your bags for and it certainly wont be breaking the sound barrier anytime soon. But it's the longest any ornithopter has ever gone. The wing flapping aircraft, which they named "Snowbird," set the record during a flight at the Great Lakes Gliding club, in Tottenham, Ontario on August 2nd.

It has been humanity's dream to fly like the birds ever since Daedalus and Icarus tried to escape from exile way back when. In 1260, Roger Bacon gave the idea some serious thought. And 200 years later, Leonardo da Vinci created his famous ornithopter design. Ever since then, people have been inspired by their idea and have attempted, failed, died and attempted, failed, died some more. Fast forward 500 plus years, the dream is not a dream anymore. It's real, it's here, it's the Snowbird.

"The Snowbird represents the completion of an age-old aeronautical dream. Throughout history, countless men and women have dreamt of flying like a bird under their own power, and hundreds, if not thousands have attempted to achieve it. This represents one of the last of the aviation firsts," Said lead developer and pilot of the aircraft, Todd Reichert.

Snowbird weighs in at 94 lbs. It has a wing span of 105 feet and is powered by its pilot.

Watch this video to see it in action!

For more info, visit

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