(September 22, 2010) Aviation history was made when the University of Toronto’s human-powered aircraft with flapping wings became the first of its kind to fly continuously.
The “Snowbird” performed its record-breaking flight on August 2 at the Great Lakes Gliding Club in Tottenham, Ont., witnessed by the vice-president (Canada) of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), the world-governing body for air sports and aeronautical world records. The official record claim was filed this month, and the FAI is expected to confirm the ornithopter’s world record at its meeting in October.
For centuries Engineers have attempted such a feat, ever since Leonardo da Vinci sketched the first human-powered ornithopter in 1485.
But under the power and piloting of Todd Reichert (EngSci OT5), an Engineering PhD candidate at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS), the wing-flapping device sustained both altitude and airspeed for 19.3 seconds, and covered a distance of 145 metres at an average speed of 25.6 kilometres per hour.