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Man Takes Flight on Self-Designed, Human-Powered Wings

Thu, 03/22/2012 - 8:53am
Human Bird Wings

Jarno Smeets, a mechanical engineer from the Netherlands, claims he is the first man in history to have made a successful short flight with his self-built wings modeled on the movement and structure of real bird wings. Using commonly available parts like accelerometers and Nintendo Wii controllers, Smeets finished his project in eight months.

Assisted by an electronic system of his own design, Smeets took off from the ground in a park in The Hague on Sunday, March 18, 2012. The flight of an estimated 100 m lasted about a minute, after which Smeets landed safely.

Until now, says Smeets, people had assumed that it was impossible to fly with bird-like wings using human muscle power. Smeets designed his own system to solve this problem, using two Wii controllers, the accelerometers from a HTC Wildfire S smartphone and Turnigy motors. This combined mechanism provided Smeets with extra power to move his 17-m2 wings and allowed him to move his arms freely without any risk of breaking them. The system is a wireless (haptic) concept. The wing itself was built out of a kite and carbon windsurf masts (as flightpins).

Human Bird Wings is an independent project initiated from Smeets’ personal ambition and vision.

“Ever since I was a little boy I have been inspired by pioneers like Otto Lilienthal, Leonardo da Vinci and also my own grandfather,” says Smeets.

Six months ago Smeets started researching. Smeets has developed and realized his wings with support from an independent team assembled under the Human Bird Wings project, sharing his progress through a blog and YouTube channel. He has offered his followers an open source concept in building bird wings. Aided by helpful suggestions of his audience he was able to successfully finish his bird wings concept.

For more information visit www.humanbirdwings.net.

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