Jarno Smeets, a Dutch engineer, has become the first man to achieve bird-like flight, on March 18.
He had been inspired by drawings his grandfather had made of a flying bicycle machine, but after studying engineering at Coventry University in London Smeets realized to build a machine like that was impossible. Instead, he looked to Leonardo Da Vinci and his drawings of wings.
Along with neuromechanics expert Ben Otten, Smeets built his design using Wii controllers, accelerometers from an HTC Wildfire Android phone, and Turnigy motors. The key to making it work was giving his muscles extra strength to carry his body weight while flying.
The wings of the machine were made out of a fragile fabric, and the top of it was folded around the ribs of the machine to make it aerodynamic, all of which had to be sewn carefully to make sure it wasn’t too heavy. The machine needed 2000 Watts of continuous power in order to support all the weight. 95 per cent came from motors, and only five per cent came from Smeets’ arms.
Smeets was in the air for sixty seconds, and described it as, “the best feeling I have felt in my life.” Eight months of work, for sixty seconds of pure freedom.