A bird flapping its wings to take a long continuous flight is no big deal, but an aircraft doing the same certainly is. The “Snowbird,” a human-powered aircraft does just that. This eco-friendly aircraft flies by flapping its wings like a bird. Brainchild of Todd Reichert, a student from the University of Toronto, this ornithopter is made from carbon fiber, foam and balsa wood.
Imitating the flying machine design sketched by legendary inventor Leonardo Da Vinci back in 1485, the Snowbird works by pumping a set of pedals attached to pulleys and lines that bring down the wings in an elegant flapping motion. Weighing just under 43 kilograms with a wing span of 32 meters, this innovative craft successfully completed its first flight in Tottenham, Ontario by sustaining both altitude and airspeed for 19.3 seconds, covering a distance of 145 meters at an average speed of 25.6 km/h.
Taking help from James DeLaurier, a retired Institute for Aerospace Studies professor who is one of the world’s leading experts on ornithopters and his colleague Cameron Robertson, Reichert took over four years to make this $200,000 worth aircraft.