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Worlds First Ornithopter Flight

Worlds First Ornithopter Flight

First flight of first human powered wing flapping aircraft...

An engineering student at the University of Toronto has entered the aviation record books by becoming the first person to successfully fly a human powered ornithopter.

In layman’s terms, an ornithopter is an aircraft with flapping wings; wings inevitably powered by a human. The most famous example of an ornithopter would have to be the hand sketched drawing by Leonardo da Vinci in 1485, but stories such like Daedalus and his son Icarus, who flew too close to the sun in his ornithopter, tells us that humans have long dreamt about creating such a device – probably since the beginning of civilization.

worlds first ornithoper

Todd Reicherts Ornithopter

The ornithopter, named Snowbird, is made of carbon fiber, has a wingspan of 105ft (32m) and weighs just 94lbs (42kg). It is powered by the pilot who must peddle in order to flap the wings that are attached by a series of pulleys and ropes.

In order to help the craft fly, pilot and designer Todd Reichert said he lost 18 pounds prior to the test run to further reduce the load as best he could.

In its recording breaking maiden flight at the Great Lakes Gliding Club in Tottenham, Ont., August 2nd, the aircraft successfully sustain a speed of 16 mph (25kph) for 19.3 seconds over a distance of 475 ft (145m).

Reichert said:

“The Snowbird represents the completion of an age-old aeronautical dream…

“Throughout history, countless men and women have dreamt of flying like a bird under their own power, and hundreds, if not thousands have attempted to achieve it. This represents one of the last of the aviation firsts.”

Although the record is still not officially confirmed, the Canadian Vice President of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), the world-governing body for air sports and aeronautical world records, was present for the test. It is now expected that the FAI will confirm the record at its meeting in October.

Related Posts:


  1. Unknown: Human-powered ornithopter becomes first ever to achieve sustained flight (w/ Video)., 09/22/2010.
  2. Unknown: Human-powered Ornithopter Becomes First Ever to Achieve Sustained Flight. University of Toronto, 09/22/2010.
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