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First Human-Powered, Wing-Flapping Aircraft Successfully Flown

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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 105 foot wingspan, but weighs in at only 94 lbs. Over the summer, the pilot of the craft had to lose 18 lbs in order to fly it for its record making debut August 2nd.

The Snowbird ended up flying 475 feet for 19.3 seconds, at 16 miles per hour. Not an efficient mode of transport, but for nearly 20 seconds, a human flew like a bird. [Phys Org]