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Snowbird ornithopter sets record for human-powered flight (video)

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In August this year, a Canadian engineering student achieved a first -- in fact, one of the last firsts in aviation. A human powered ornithopter (a craft that flies by flapping its wings) flew for 19.3 seconds, traveling some 475 feet at an average speed of 15.9 miles an hour. Built by University of Toronto grad students Todd Reichert and Cameron Robertson, the project required that the pilot (Reichert) lose 17 pounds, maintain a special diet, and train daily. Named Snowbird, the craft weighs under 95 pounds and has a wingspan of some 105 -- comparable to a Boeing 737. It was towed aloft by a car, after which the pilot pumped a set of pedals with his feet, which caused the wings to flap. Unlike previous attempts in the past, the Canadian group was able to provide telemetry data to prove that the craft flew under its own power. On confirmation by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale, the craft is set to receive the award for the longest sustained flight by a human-powered ornithopter. Video after the break.



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