Karl  Frank

St. Paul's Academy

This conversation is closed.

Focusing our attention on a species (Ardea herodias) as we endeavor to break the human powered flight distance record with ornithopters.

Janine Benyus says it succinctly. People need to come out of their silos and work together to see this next step in the human powered flight story happen. Unless some enormously generous benefactor steps forward with wads of cash, a team of steadfastly determined individuals with a diversity of talents and utter disregard for personal monetary gain is needed. Can that happen? We will see. Flight provides the shortest distance between two points. We are LONG past the point where technology gave us the gossamer condor. How far ahead is the takeoff of a human powered ornithopter that can fly more than 74 miles?


  • thumb
    Feb 20 2011: Shot-in-the-dark....
    A fixed "wing-set" constructed with a slightly elastic, fibrous "nano-pore" material that distributes wind in such a way as to propel itself in helicopter-like directional vectors?

    I'm going to post this, despite the fact that I'm not at all sure what I just said.
  • Feb 18 2011: why do you choose the ornithopter? i saw a clip of the flight of one quite recently. the wings flapped but did not change shape and so provided absolutely no additional lift. the only way it flew was by the force applied by the people pushing it for take-off, which provided enough air flow over the wings to get it off the ground, but from there it gained no further height.
    also flight is not the shortest distance between 2 points, but it is the most practical one at present.
    • thumb
      Feb 18 2011: Hi Ben,

      Ornithopters come in many shapes and sizes! I made a few videos to try and illustrate my way of thinking and I recognize that this is a lot to ask, but the shortest is just under three minutes and I tried very hard to make it a visual feast for the eyes. The ornithopter I can see see clearly flapping about in my imagination is a carefully constructed model of a great blue heron that uses our lightest and strongest materials. In terms of energy usage, Birds are far more efficient at flying than our best aircraft.

      When I wrote that flight is the shortest distance between two points, I perhaps should have written 'Flying between two points on a map generally involves a shorter transit distance than traveling by road. This is especially true in regions with some topographic relief.'

      I believe I have the same ornithopter flight you refer to embedded on my website. Was it put together at the University of Toronto? It does represent innovation for us and much is to be learned by their work, but I am interested in a different approach.

      Thank you for your interest! I hope I may sustain it.
      • Feb 19 2011: toronto sounds familiar so no doubt that was it. interestingly flight didn't really get anywhere until early inventor gave up on flapping contraptions and instead modeled their wings on soaring birds. i get your point about stronger and lighter materials, but there also have to be joints - the way a flapping bird (or bat) can stay aloft is be having a very different wing shape in the upstroke and downstroke, ie the wing would have to be able to bend quite considerably.
  • thumb
    Feb 17 2011: Man has found a device to fly only using Solar Energy and had successfully completed a day and night flight powere only by solar energy. They hope to go round the world soon see hear
    Soon these type of planes will take more people round the world using only Solar power and no other fuel!
    • thumb
      Feb 18 2011: I have found the work being done on the solar impulse quite inspiring. Thank you for pointing me toward it again!