Manned Ornithopter Flies In Toronto


If a wing flaps in Canada, and nobody’s paying attention, does it make a stir? Luckily for aeronautical engineer James DeLaurier, who last Saturday saw his one-seat ornithopter fly for the first time, a reporter at The Toronto Star who shares his fascination with flapping flight got the story out. The aircraft flapped its way into the air (with a boost from a small jet engine), climbed to about 3 feet above the ground, and sustained flight for 1,200 feet and 14 seconds. It returned to the runway and tipped over onto its nose, damaging the gear, reportedly the result of an encounter with a crosswind. But it beat by two seconds the Wright brothers’ first flight, and that was good enough for DeLaurier. “It is a perfect day,” he told the Star after the flight. “If I have the big one now, I’ll die happy.” The pilot, Jack Sanderson, was fine. DeLaurier says the ornithopter now will likely be repaired and then retire to a museum. To fly farther, it would need a bigger wing, and that would require a bigger source of money. Roll control also needs modification, he said.