First ever human powered flight.
world’s first ornithopter flight. the plane visualized by leonardo da vinci in 1485.
a human-powered “wing-flapping” plane, the inspiration for modern day helicopters.
todd reichert, an engineering student at the university of toronto, made history by sustaining flight in his ornithopter — named snowbird — for 19.3 seconds and covering 475.72 feet. snowbird is made from carbon fiber, balsa wood, and foam. the 92.59 pound vehicle maintained an average speed of 15.91 miles per hour.
the flight occurred on august 2, 2010, at the great lakes gliding club in tottenham, ontario. the feat was kept quiet for nearly two months to get the data finalized.
there were 65 practice flights, but there’s a chance the aircraft will probably never be flown again.
todd endured a year-long exercise program in which he lost 18 lbs. to prep for the flight. the plane has a wingspan of 104 feet — which is comparable to that of a Boeing 737 — Todd had to pedal with his legs all while pulling on the wings to flap at the same time. and he had to do it fast enough to fly!
the flight, witnessed by the federation aeronautique internationale, is the first officially confirmed flight in an ornithopter.
“thousands of people have tried to do this for hundreds of years. to be honest, i don’t think it’s really set in yet that i’m the one who has been successful. i was pushing with everything i had. when i finally let go and landed, i was hit with a breadth of excitement. it was pretty wild.”
todd and some 30 other students had been working on the plane for four years.
( photo via todd reichert)