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Aviation history is made by 'flapper'
The Toronto Star ^ | 07/09/2006 | By DEBRA BLACK

Posted on 07/09/2006 12:00:46 PM PDT by oxcart

For an aeronautical engineer it was the perfect day and a perfect end to a quest that has consumed his life for more than 30 years.

Yesterday Dr. James DeLaurier, an aeronautical engineer and professor emeritus at the University of Toronto's Institute for Aerospace Studies, fulfilled a lifelong dream, seeing his manned mechanical flapping-wing airplane, or ornithopter, fly — a dream first imagined by Leonardo da Vinci.

And with the successful flight DeLaurier has been lucky enough to touch what many describe as the Holy Grail of aeronautical design, achieving a place for himself, his team of volunteers and students in aviation history.

The flapper, as it's affectionately known, sustained flight over about a third of a kilometre for 14 seconds at about 10:20 a.m. before being hit by a crosswind and almost flipping over, damaging the nose and front wheel on the runway at Downsview Park.

But the flight was long enough to prove DeLaurier's mechanical flapping-wing design for a manned, jet-boosted aircraft works. The successful test flight was longer than the first powered flight by aviation pioneers the Wright brothers in December 1903 that lasted 12 seconds over a windswept beach in North Carolina. Beating that record was enough for DeLaurier.

"It is a perfect day," he said after the flight. "If I have the big one now, I'll die happy."

After four attempts at getting the ornithopter in the air, the fifth brought glory. The ornithopter, which looks like a cross between an old-fashioned plane and a Canada goose, took off and flew about two metres in the air. DeLaurier whooped and hollered from a truck by the side of the runway, watching it with complete wonder and joy.

"You did it man," he told pilot Jack Sanderson. "You've made an old professor really happy," DeLaurier said as he hugged him, choking back tears. "You've made aviation history." Then DeLaurier matter-of-factly walked down the runway to find a wing tip that broke off during the hard landing.

The team walked the ornithopter quietly down the runway to the hangar.

Like many aeronautical engineers and scientists before him, DeLaurier has long puzzled over the idea of mechanical flapping-wing flight. Indeed, the search for a perfect flapping-wing airplane is, for aeronautical engineers, like mathematicians' quest to solve Fermat's Last Theorem — fuelled by an insatiable hunger for knowledge.

"I hadn't planned on this taking most of my career, but I don't regret it," said DeLaurier. "It has been exciting and interesting. Also it's been a worthy project, a worthy quest. You know that age-old saying: `What's the meaning of life?' Quite frankly, life has meaning if you measure yourself against a worthy goal. And for an aerospace engineer — who loves aviation history — this has been a worthy goal."

Humanity has always been fascinated by the idea of man flying like a bird. The Greeks told mythic tales about Daedalus and Icarus who fled the Labyrinth on wings of wax and feathers. Da Vinci was so fascinated with the idea he conceived an elaborate plan for an ornithopter — a design that, DeLaurier said, would never fly because the materials would be too heavy.

And so DeLaurier was moved to build what many have thought impossible — a manned engine-powered, flapping-wing airplane that would take off unaided. As a teenager DeLaurier was consumed with that dream, playing with rubber band-model ornithopters that he made out of balsa wood. But he didn't get serious about the quest until 1973 when he met Jeremy Harris, a principal researcher and colleague at Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio. The two became inseparable, working on the ornithopter.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- `You did it man. You've made an old professor really happy. You've made aviation history'

Ornithopter developer

James DeLaurier

to test pilot Jack Sanderson


TOPICS: Canada; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: flapper; ornithopter
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?????
1 posted on 07/09/2006 12:00:48 PM PDT by oxcart
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To: oxcart

2 posted on 07/09/2006 12:01:23 PM PDT by oxcart (Journalism [Sic])
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To: oxcart

I would stand clear of those wings.


3 posted on 07/09/2006 12:03:02 PM PDT by Larry Lucido
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To: KevinDavis; Aeronaut

(((PING)))


4 posted on 07/09/2006 12:03:10 PM PDT by oxcart (Journalism [Sic])
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To: Larry Lucido

LOL, I would stand clear of the whole plane.


5 posted on 07/09/2006 12:03:51 PM PDT by oxcart (Journalism [Sic])
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To: Paleo Conservative

The new Airbus 350?


6 posted on 07/09/2006 12:04:06 PM PDT by Larry Lucido
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To: Larry Lucido

7 posted on 07/09/2006 12:05:08 PM PDT by oxcart (Journalism [Sic])
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To: Larry Lucido

8 posted on 07/09/2006 12:06:17 PM PDT by oxcart (Journalism [Sic])
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To: oxcart
Cool, as a novelty. Not sure about any commercial application. Too much can go wrong.

(Although...the same was said about the Wright bros....LOL)

9 posted on 07/09/2006 12:06:45 PM PDT by patton (LGOPs = head toward the noise, kill anyone not dressed like you.)
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To: oxcart
I want to see one flown by a man.
10 posted on 07/09/2006 12:08:34 PM PDT by HuntsvilleTxVeteran ("Remember the Alamo, Goliad and WACO, It is Time for a new San Jacinto")
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To: patton

If we could just add pedals


11 posted on 07/09/2006 12:09:55 PM PDT by woofie ("Romper, bomper, stomper, boo. Tell me, tell me, tell me do.Magic mirror, tell me today. Did all ...)
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To: patton
It worked for the Ateides......
12 posted on 07/09/2006 12:10:05 PM PDT by Uriah_lost (http://www.wingercomics.com/d/20051205.html)
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To: patton
Samuel Pierpont Langley
13 posted on 07/09/2006 12:10:25 PM PDT by oxcart (Journalism [Sic])
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To: Uriah_lost

Atreides that is.


14 posted on 07/09/2006 12:11:21 PM PDT by Uriah_lost (http://www.wingercomics.com/d/20051205.html)
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To: HuntsvilleTxVeteran

See post #8.


15 posted on 07/09/2006 12:11:29 PM PDT by oxcart (Journalism [Sic])
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To: oxcart

Think I'll stick with the fixed wing thanx.


16 posted on 07/09/2006 12:11:41 PM PDT by cripplecreek (I'm trying to think but nothing happens)
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To: Uriah_lost

I miss the reference?


17 posted on 07/09/2006 12:12:06 PM PDT by patton (LGOPs = head toward the noise, kill anyone not dressed like you.)
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To: Larry Lucido

Imagine this thing perching above the car you've just washed.


18 posted on 07/09/2006 12:12:51 PM PDT by GSlob
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To: woofie

Apropos, the trashbag flyer.


19 posted on 07/09/2006 12:13:08 PM PDT by patton (LGOPs = head toward the noise, kill anyone not dressed like you.)
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To: GSlob

LOL.


20 posted on 07/09/2006 12:13:45 PM PDT by patton (LGOPs = head toward the noise, kill anyone not dressed like you.)
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To: woofie
Patrick Zdunich, works on the glow plug of the small jet engine mounted under the fuselage of the aircraft. The tiny jet (used normally for big model aircraft), will get the plane moving on the ground up to takeoff speed before the flapping wings take over in flight.


21 posted on 07/09/2006 12:14:41 PM PDT by oxcart (Journalism [Sic])
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To: patton

In the novels of the Dune series by Frank Herbert orinthopters were the primary method of atmospheric transport.


22 posted on 07/09/2006 12:16:27 PM PDT by Uriah_lost (http://www.wingercomics.com/d/20051205.html)
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To: oxcart

I hope there was video made and that it gets posted somewhere.


23 posted on 07/09/2006 12:18:02 PM PDT by Uriah_lost (http://www.wingercomics.com/d/20051205.html)
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To: Uriah_lost

Ohhhhhh....I haven't read Dune since (mumble mumble mumble)....


24 posted on 07/09/2006 12:18:52 PM PDT by patton (LGOPs = head toward the noise, kill anyone not dressed like you.)
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To: oxcart
DAVID COOPER / TORONTO STAR
Previous Start Next

A flapping wing plane flew for the first time Saturday morning at Downsview. Piloted by Jack Sanderson, it managed to stay in the air for 14 seconds before a crosswind caused it to bank over and crash back onto the runway here.


 

25 posted on 07/09/2006 12:20:37 PM PDT by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
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To: Uriah_lost

Looking now.


26 posted on 07/09/2006 12:21:33 PM PDT by oxcart (Journalism [Sic])
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To: oxcart
Samuel Pierpont Langley, bureaucrat, spent $80,000 of taxpayer money (in 1904 dollars) to create a plane that splashed. Failure due, Langley said, to "insufficient funds."

The bishop's boys, Wilbur and Orville, spent somewhat less that $1,000 of their own money.

The privatization of space transport could, I believe, lead to a new golden age.

27 posted on 07/09/2006 12:21:39 PM PDT by TomSmedley (Calvinist, optimist, home schooling dad, exuberant husband, technical writer)
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To: oxcart

I guess the feather boa helps.

28 posted on 07/09/2006 12:21:56 PM PDT by OSHA (Lose money FAST playing penny stocks. Ask me how!)
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To: oxcart

I guess there was some tasty bird seed on the runway?

29 posted on 07/09/2006 12:24:24 PM PDT by Vince Ferrer
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To: SandRat

Thank You...I wish I could do that!


30 posted on 07/09/2006 12:25:25 PM PDT by oxcart (Journalism [Sic])
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To: TomSmedley

There is just something about those "Ohio" boys and "toys".


31 posted on 07/09/2006 12:29:54 PM PDT by oxcart (Journalism [Sic])
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To: Vince Ferrer

LOL, drenched my key board!


32 posted on 07/09/2006 12:31:08 PM PDT by oxcart (Journalism [Sic])
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To: oxcart

I just love inventors who get fixated on something like this. The world would be a much less interesting place without people like this working on an impractical dream for 30 years. More power to them!

LQ


33 posted on 07/09/2006 12:36:07 PM PDT by LizardQueen (The world is not out to get you, except in the sense that the world is out to get everyone.)
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To: LizardQueen

Yes, they make it interesting, but when they make things like this the Darwin Award comes into play.


34 posted on 07/09/2006 12:40:42 PM PDT by oxcart (Journalism [Sic])
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To: patton
Cool, as a novelty. Not sure about any commercial application. Too much can go wrong.

The same is true of any helicopter. Especially the Piaseki/Vertrol/Boeing design, but also the Kaman, both basic types have overlaping main rotors, which can "become entangled". Not that the single main rotor w/anti torque tail rotor type is without it's problems as well. This actually looks a bit simpler than most helicopters.

35 posted on 07/09/2006 12:41:18 PM PDT by El Gato
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To: El Gato

LOL - the Chinook - only aircraft capable of having a collision with itself...


36 posted on 07/09/2006 12:42:52 PM PDT by patton (LGOPs = head toward the noise, kill anyone not dressed like you.)
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To: TomSmedley
If your interested in the Wright Brothers and the development of military aviation, you might enjoy this book: Air Power

I happened to glance at the book while browsing at Barnes & Noble and I couldn't put it down.

Off topic, but is Langley field in Virginia named after Samuel Pierpont Langley?

37 posted on 07/09/2006 12:44:10 PM PDT by eeman
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To: oxcart

Oh, very cool. Surely not practical right now, but still interesting. Who knows where it'll lead?


38 posted on 07/09/2006 12:50:53 PM PDT by figgers3036
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To: eeman
Yes. So was the USS Langley (CV-1).

More shots here.

39 posted on 07/09/2006 12:55:05 PM PDT by Gumlegs
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To: eeman

Well ... it worked when I previewed it.


40 posted on 07/09/2006 12:56:19 PM PDT by Gumlegs
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To: patton
LOL - the Chinook - only aircraft capable of having a collision with itself...

Actually not true. Just recently there was a video here on FR of an MH-60 chopping off it's refueling boom. And I've heard of the same thing happening with that other Sikorski design the MH-53. IIRC, this happens when you get too much forward cyclic along with quickly applied "up" cyclic/power.

41 posted on 07/09/2006 12:59:48 PM PDT by El Gato
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To: Gumlegs

Thanks for the info. It seems ironic that the Military would name an airfield and the first aircraft carrier after him, given the financial boondoggle his manned flight epxeriments were. I guess you could consider his houseboat/catapult contraption to be the first prototype of an aircraft carrier.


BTW, your link works fine


42 posted on 07/09/2006 1:17:23 PM PDT by eeman
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To: eeman
Glad the link worked.

I'm not sure that "boondoggle" is really fitting for the good Professor, who was associated with the Smithsonian. IIRC, he was engaged in an honest attempt to achieve manned flight. Admittedly, he didn't succeed, which meant that the money backing him went down the drain. In later years, aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss rebuilt Langley's aerodrome in an attempt to prove that it would have worked had it not been damaged in takeoff. (Curtiss was involved in a dispute with the Wright Brothers, and spent a lot of time trying to show them up. Curtiss also wasn't above "improving" on Langley's design just a wee bit to make sure it worked well enough).

However, this is all from memory, and I haven't kept up on the latest research. Has Langley been discredited somehow?

43 posted on 07/09/2006 1:55:12 PM PDT by Gumlegs
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To: oxcart; Tijeras_Slim; FireTrack; Pukin Dog; citabria; B Knotts; kilowhskey; cyphergirl; ...

44 posted on 07/09/2006 1:56:56 PM PDT by Aeronaut ("Endless repetition is not a coherent argument." —Thomas Sowell)
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To: TomSmedley
The privatization of space transport could, I believe, lead to a new golden age.

It's been private since Goddard.

45 posted on 07/09/2006 1:58:33 PM PDT by RightWhale (Off touch and out of base)
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To: eeman
Thanks for the info. It seems ironic that the Military would name an airfield and the first aircraft carrier after him, given the financial boondoggle his manned flight epxeriments were

The Wright brothers were in communications with him, and learned a lot from his failures. They, not being academics, or even engineers, but rather bicycle mechanics, took a somewhat different approach. They did however do their development the way engineers probably would have. They constructed models, and prototypes. They built a wind tunnel to evaluate airfoil designs, and IIRC stability. (Their original flier was unstable in pitch, but the instability was controllable by the pilot. Now we have airplanes that are one again unstable or marginally stable in pitch, it has advantages in the drag arena, but the control is done by computers, because human reflexes just are not fast enough.)

46 posted on 07/09/2006 2:00:08 PM PDT by El Gato
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To: Aeronaut

Thanks for the (((PING)))


47 posted on 07/09/2006 2:22:23 PM PDT by oxcart (Journalism [Sic])
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To: oxcart; All

Doesn't a helicopter also beat the air into submission?


48 posted on 07/09/2006 2:29:11 PM PDT by U S Army EOD (I SHOT DOWN TWA 800 AND FR IS CLOSING IN ON ME)
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To: El Gato
MH-60 chopping off it's refueling boom. And I've heard of the same thing happening with that other Sikorski design the MH-53.

On the fixed wing side we call that jousting. It is pretty funny to watch the wild combinations of control inputs a guy can put in trying to get in the basket.

Tanking off 130s can be pretty tough because the baskets move around quite a bit. You have to be patient and wait for the movement to slow before you try to plug.

49 posted on 07/09/2006 2:46:36 PM PDT by USNBandit (sarcasm engaged at all times)
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To: SandRat; Aeronaut

Amazing!


50 posted on 07/09/2006 2:50:45 PM PDT by Northern Yankee ( Stay The Course!)
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