A Fresh Twist On The Problem Of Flight

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As aeronautics, Dave Clews' attempt to fly in a rubber-band-powered aircraft was a dismal failure. As art, though, Clews achieved precisely his goal. "It was spectacular," he said. "Everything I hoped it would be, apart from actually flying." The airplane, with a 20-foot wingspan and a cockpit for one, was built to resemble the tiny balsa-wood gliders that Clews fondly remembers from his childhood. A 200-foot-long bungee cord provided power, and the wings were built of pine and covered in fabric. Clews said his balsa models could fly over 100 feet, so if you scale that up, his human-size version should have been able to fly over 2,000 feet. Instead, the aircraft moved just six feet along the runway ... backward. Clews was not flagged. "We are taking a step in the right direction just by moving," he said. "I mean, technically it is a step in the wrong direction I suppose, but at least it's a step." Michael Maziere, curator of the art gallery that sponsored the exhibition, said the project fulfilled its artistic goals. "These works reveal the importance of failure as an essential process of development. [Such] futile gestures take the raw desires of our childhood fantasies to their logical conclusion," he said. A reporter for The Register wondered if the exhibit would also feature an Airbus A380, "currently the world's leading example of 'the importance of failure as an essential process of development."