By Dan Nosowitz
Posting in Aerospace
This is amazing, and strangely majestic: A Canadian student created a world-record-setting, pedal-powered aircraft that flaps its huge wings to fly.
We've all seen the ridiculous videos of human-powered aircraft, some from the early 20th century, some from episodes of MTV's Jackass. They universally fail: The human body is, we have come to believe, just too heavy, weak, and ill-equipped to power an aircraft by itself.
But Todd Reichert, an engineering Ph.D candidate at the prestigious University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies, designed and piloted this amazing aircraft that may just set a little flutter in your heart. Maybe we can fly, just like R. Kelly believes.
The vehicle weighs only 94 pounds, made of carbon fiber and balsa wood (!), but sports a wingspan of 105 feet, very nearly that of a Boeing 737. The craft, says Pop Sci, requires an SUV for takeoff, but the ornithopter then sustained flight for what's almost certain to be confirmed as a world record: 475 feet at 16mph, with a total air time of 19.3 seconds.
This flight was monitored by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, the body that monitors and awards world records in flight, and the aircraft is expected to be confirmed as the new world record holder in October.
Sure, it was only 19.3 seconds, and it's not really sustainable unless you're Lance Armstrong. But tell me you didn't feel a little flutter of awe and amazement as the massive wings began flapping. It's more than a little bit majestic, right?
Sep 22, 2010
Nice work on the video, looks pretty cool with the flapping and all. Gives new meaning to survival of the fittest! I am in agreement on the take off though, what is up with the car jump start? Go find a Kitty Hawk and push it off at least! -Jerk
Anybody know anything about the music track that accompanied the video? I thought it was great and would like to find out more.
Archimedes would have loved it! The technology was amazing, the weak link being the power supply - lol. You can see that it wasn't just a glide, as the main cabin moves up and down with the flapping of the wings - just like any heavy bird ie a goose, trying to get under way. Well done guys, keep it up - literally.
Dan, who is the WE who "have come to believe...."? You may be long on self-esteem, but short on history. Where were you when the Kremer Prizes were being won? Go live a while, dry yourself behind the ears, and then write such stuff with a lot more care.
Gossamer Condor and Gossamer Albatross really flew. Or as Woody said to Buzz, "That's not flying, that's falling with style!"
It looks a lot like flutter, a usually dangerous dynamic instability in wings (and other things). To provide thrust and lift the pitch of the wing needs to be changed during the cycle in precise ways. I am assuming that they tried to do that. The two tests would be to see how far the thing would have flown with the wings still (if they can keep them still), and how far it would fly with a small gas engine powering the wings. There is a difference in being right (or thinking you are right) and proving it.
You can almost tell from the flapping of the wings, that it's taking a lot out of the pilot. At the end it looks as if he just gives out. Also, they don't show the landing. I assume it wasn't pretty. I give them an 'A' for effort though. I'd love to pilot one of those things, even if it's for just under 20 seconds!
Reminds me of the first films of the Wright brothers. They didn't last much longer. I think a lot of us will be following developments in the career of Todd Reichert.
MISLEADING! First you discuss HPV's from the early 20th century, then jump to stunts on a TV show. Now, thank goodness, we are going to be saved by an amazing HPV that flaps it's wings. Let's just ignore a huge chunk of aviation history. You conveniently ignore the Kremer Prize & the Gossamer Albatross. 475 feet - big deal. The English Channel was crossed by the HPV Gossamer Condor in 1979.
Very disappointing. I've seen gliders before, and this one leaves much to be desired. All the wing flapping does is shorten the glide distance.
Didn't really look like human powered flight to me. Looked more like a gliding decent, slightly mitigated with flapping wings. That flapping action probably produces almost as much downforce as upforce. Very nice plane construction.
Pretty amazing if you ask me. It's a very good start into what is possible. I mean, look at the wing articulation. All they have to do is figure out how to magnify human power to the wings and it should be able to take off on its own.
That's not flying "by flapping its wings". It's only gliding as any other glider would. The flapping itself isn't achieving anything except for show. It would probably glide just as far, and possibly farther, without the flapping. You should be debunking this junk science instead of encouraging these flim-flam flappers.
Nah. Wouldn't human powered flight require a human powered take-off? "The human body is, we have come to believe, just too heavy, weak, and ill-equipped to power an aircraft by itself." I'll stick with that. I'll bet that pilot was pedaling his heart out!
It's a world record for an ornithopter, not for man-powered flight, right? Do a search on "Kremer prize."