Human powered flight?

25 09 2010

A Canadian University student claims to have made history by flying an aircraft he and his friends built with nothing more than human muscle power. The aircraft called the Ornithopther has flapping wings.  But is the claim legitimate? Watch the video here.

Although the team claims to have flown “Snowbird” as the aircraft is christened, a RECORD distance of 475 feet while staying airborne  for 19.3 seconds, the take off was aided by a motored vehicle and a tow line. The aircraft looks almost birdlike and definitely very graceful in flight but  is this really counted as human powered flight? Could the aircraft, after attaining a minimum airspeed, glide for the same distance without any human intervention?

I don;t claim to be an expert at designing an aircraft but it would have been more convincing had the team made it the take off from a knoll and without the aid of a tow line from a motored vehicle. Still this is progress. Perhaps in future they can perfect their wing to produce enough lift for a human powered takeoff!

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