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World’s First Successful Human-Powered Ornithopter Takes Flight

A doctoral engineering student at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies, Todd Reichert, has built and successfully flown the world’s first working human-powered ornithopter, which is a machine that flies by flapping its wings. Building it to work via a human pedaling it like a bicycle, however, is what makes Reichert’s achievement so neat. Check out the video after the jump.

The human-powered ornithopter has made various appearances in old inventors’ journals, past visions of what future transportation may be like, and even in Futurama.

Reichert’s ornithopter, dubbed the “Snowbird,” composed of carbon fiber and balsa wood, has a 105-foot wingspan and only weighs 94 pounds. He powers the Snowbird by pedaling with his legs, while pulleys and ropes attached to the pedals flap the wings. The Snowbird flew for 19.3 seconds at 16 miles per hour.

HPO The Snowbird from U of T Engineering on Vimeo.

Might this achievement of pedaling to obtain flight signal doom for boring, old land-bicycles now that Reichert invented air-bicycles?

(The Toronto Star via PopSci via Neatorama)

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