...Or Just Up And Down, Up And Down, Up And Down...

  • E-Mail this Article
  • View Printable Article
  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A

Just when you think there's nothing new left in the world of flight, another inventor turns up out of nowhere with a plan to go where few have ventured before. This time it's manned flight via flapping wings, an idea that's been around since at least 500 years ago, when Leonardo da Vinci experimented with the concept. A team at the University of Toronto's Institute for Aerospace Studies says its prototype manned, powered ornithopter will be ready for its first flight within a few weeks. Prof. James DeLaurier, leader of the project, was inspired by da Vinci as a child, and hopes to fly the next version of his aircraft at the Olympic Games in Italy, in February 2006, in his honor. The wings provide both lift and thrust, but the power comes from the same place as for every aircraft -- cash. DeLaurier is working to raise $5 million to get his dream to fly at the Olympics off the ground. To see how the wings work, check out this video of a 1999 taxi test ... if you've ever watched an overfed goose struggling to get airborne, you've got the idea. If the flight is successful, it may become the first manned, sustained, powered, flapping flight, but Vladimir Toporov reportedly flew a human-powered ornithopter, Giordano, in Russia in 1995.