First Human-Powered, Wing-Flapping Aircraft Successfully Flown

Remember those old timey flying contraptions inventors used to think up? With bulky, mechanical wings that they flapped? Such a device - a human-powered ornithopter - was successfully flown continuously for the first time, marking a bit of aviation history.

Granted, the 2010 version of an ornithopter is much sleeker looking than the inventions that spring to mind from those grainy black and white videos. The University of Toronto's "Snowbird" has a 32m wingspan, but weighs in at only 43kg. Over the last few months, the pilot of the craft had to lose 8kg in order to fly it for its record-making debut on August 2.

The Snowbird ended up flying 145m for 19.3 seconds at 26km/h. Not an efficient mode of transport, but for nearly 20 seconds, a human flew like a bird. [Phys Org]