winged plane Canadian scientist James DeLaurier has spent the past 35 years building models and prototypes of winged airplanes—orithopters—based on DaVinci's plans for a plane that rose into the air by flapping its wings. Now his full-size winged plane—the first of its kind—is scheduled to launch next April from a Downsview, Ontario airstrip, with pilot on board. Fellow aerospace enthusiasts are thrilled, but what gets our attention is that DeLaurier seems like a fellow obsessive—as cellphone-trading, digital camera-swapping, chip-upgrading, laptop-testing gearheads, hey, we can relate.

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Winged airplane: An obsession takes flight