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Video: Flap-Tastic Human Powered Ornithopter From Canada Flies! 

 The video from AVweb includes and interview with Todd Reichert, the pilot and lead designer of this human powered ornithopter. This is a very impressive accomplishment by a team of students from the University of Toronto, and it'll be interesting to see if they have additional, longer duration flights to show us. With a wingspan of 105 feet, the aircraft weighs just 94 pounds! I specifically like the designers comment: "essentially ever single bit of it is about to fail at any given moment... if something is not very, very close to failure, then it's probably way too heavy."

You can check out more videos of this groovy human-powered wing flapper from this innovative team at their youtube channel:  You can also learn more at the project website: (link opens at the 'technical info' page)

 'Bravo' to a job well done! 


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Reader Comments (3)

Pretty awesome considering early versions tended to rip themselves into bits. Can't wait to see the evolution of this project.

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin

I'm in two minds about this project. Sure, it's a major technical achievement to develop so lightweight a 'flapper': but it did not (and, I understand, cannot) achieve flight under its own power. It had to be towed into the air like a glider, and then the flapping action of the wings sustained flight for a short period before it settled back to earth. Can that legitimately be called the 'first flight' of an ornithopter? Should it not be capable of liftoff under its own power to be called a 'flight' as such?

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

Marvin- I totally agree.

Peter- I understand your point, and I admit that I haven't researched it enough to know whether it's stated that it 'cannot' achieve lift off under its own power. It would seem to me to be possible, tho I imagine it taking a pretty long run. If it is possible, then it makes perfect sense to me that these first flights utilized an assisted takeoff. There'd be no reason to subject the pilot to both the mental stress of determining if the aircraft was both stable and controllable while also having to endure the extreme physical stress of powering the takeoff himself.

For me, my mind is focused on the part that says this is an amazing accomplishment to build a 94 pound 'flapper' that actually appears to be creating some level of thrust thru the flapping mechanism. That's enough for me right now to toss 'em a 'bravo' for their work : )

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMartt (admin)

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