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Human-Powered Ornithopter Project

Man has been planning and dreaming about ornithopter designs since as far back as 4th century BC. You may recall the schematics from the illustrations in Da Vinci’s notebook, right next to the ones of that dead guy’s hand that he cut open. This vehicle is basically a flying bicycle (not the kind E.T. rode) whose wings flap up and down when powered by human force. To think that we have holograms that give us our flight boarding information and no ornithopter is embarrassing. This was sort of the thinking behind the Human-Powered Ornithopter Project in which graduate and undergraduate engineering students built one of the few to have ever succeeded. The “Snowbird”, as they called it, set a record-long flight of 19.3 seconds last year, maintaining level altitude and airspeed the entire time. An advisory board consisting of aerospace engineers and rowing-bike designer Derk Thys, who contributed his expertise in rowing mechanism efficiency to transfer the force of the rider to the wings. I could definitely see myself flying this around town, laughing as I pass every gas station.