Aviation history in the making? Not a Highlander, but...

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Aviation history in the making? Not a Highlander, but...

Postby FlyerChief » Thu Sep 23, 2010 8:30 pm

Another chapter in aviation history may have been written the other day near here. For thousands of years man has wanted to fly like a bird. Da Vinci designed some interesting human-powered aircraft in the 1400's and many people have attempted to modify his designs or create their own ornithopters, but few have succeeded to actually fly even a very short distance... until now!

The "Snowbird" was created by university students from Toronto and flew it from a grass strip just north of there. The bird was towed to get it up to speed, then detached like a glider, but maintained flight (height and speed) under human power. The aircraft weighs just 94 pounds, but has a wing span of 105 feet, which is comparable to that of a Boeing 737 airliner.

The ornithopter's 19.3-second qualifying flight covered a distance of 145 meters (475 feet) at an average speed of 25.6 km/h (16 mph). By comparison, the Wright brothers' first powered flight in 1903 lasted 12 seconds and covered 37 meters (120 feet).

There have been earlier attempts at building an ornithopter that made it off the ground, although those aircraft are seen as having just glided after getting airborne. The Snowbird is not the first human-powered aircraft to successfully fly. The Gossamer Condor used a pedal-powered propeller in 1977 to cover a one-mile figure-eight course in 7.5 minutes. One later flew across the English Channel. The Snowbird is likely the first true ornithopther.

If DaVinci and his contemporaries had access to the high tech materials that exist now, maybe aviation as we know it would have started hundreds of years earlier. One can only surmise...

Here is the news story for your perusal.

http://www.thestar.com/videozone/865103 ... on-history

When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it. ~Henry Ford
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