“Snowbird”, a human-powered aircraft with flapping wings, has become the first of its kind to be capable of sustained flight, say its creators at the University of Toronto. The ornithopter maintained both altitude and airspeed for 19 seconds, and covered a distance of 145 meters at an average speed of 26 kilometers per hour.
Snowbird performed its record-breaking flight on August 2, the official record claim was filed this month and the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale is expected to confirm the ornithopter’s world record at its meeting in October.
The aircraft was piloted (and powered) by Todd Reichert, an Engineering PhD candidate at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies. “The Snowbird represents the completion of an age-old aeronautical dream,” says Reichert. “Throughout history, countless men and women have dreamt of flying like a bird under their own power, and hundreds, if not thousands have attempted to achieve it. This represents one of the last of the aviation firsts.”