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Saturday, July 15, 2006

Project Ornithopter: Aircraft With Mechanical Flapping Wings (Link)

Project Ornithopter

Saturday July 8th, Dr. James DeLaurier, an aeronautical engineer and professor emeritus at the University of Toronto's Institute for Aerospace Studies, fulfilled a lifelong dream, seeing his manned mechanical flapping-wing airplane, or ornithopter, fly — a dream first imagined by Leonardo da Vinci.

The flapper, as it's affectionately known, sustained flight over about a third of a kilometre for 14 seconds at about 10:20 a.m. before being hit by a crosswind and almost flipping over, damaging the nose and front wheel on the runway at Downsview Park.

But the flight was long enough to prove DeLaurier's mechanical flapping-wing design for a manned, jet-boosted aircraft works. The successful test flight was longer than the first powered flight by aviation pioneers the Wright brothers in December 1903 that lasted 12 seconds over a windswept beach in North Carolina. Beating that record was enough for DeLaurier.

"It is a perfect day," he said after the flight. "If I have the big one now, I'll die happy."

I think De Vinci will be so happy to see his dream design to be put finally in action. I couldn't find any video that showed this "aircraft" taking off more than a couple of feet. I think the above picture shows the highest the Ornithopter were able to fly. Despite that, I still believe it is an interesting project to keep an eye on from time to time.

Read Also:
Aviation History Is Made By 'Flapper' (Toronto Star)
Flapping-Wing Aircraft (Neatorama)

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