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Can you see the strings? ("Yes") Answered

You may have seen on the news that a Dutch chap claims to have flown under his own power from a standing start.

Watch the video...

I don't buy it - I think that...
  • those wings beat too quickly to generate enough lift (compare to the beat-rate of much smaller swans, eagles and condors)
  • the wing membranes don't show enough sign of being under load - they're too loose and flappy.
  • the wings look the same on the down- and up-strokes
  • the upstroke should push him down, because the membrane doesn't close up like a bat's wing, or let air through like a bird's wing.
In fact, I reckon he's on strings.

What do you think?


Thanks to those comments from The Usual Suspects - so it's a fake after all.

I ought to point out, as well, that the BBC had been reporting this on their website as well, but the story has mysteriously disappeared in the last few minutes (I didn't provide the BBC link, since most non-UK readers are able to see video on their site).




6 years ago

I call BS. all your observations are correct Kiteman.

if you go to the website that is on the video it shows that obviously he did not pull this off 100% by himself. there were electric servos or motors of some sort that gave the muscle to lift him in the air...as far as strings, i watched this video 25X and havent seen them. BUT thae fact that the tire marks are there are suspicious. HOWEVER one could conclude that MABY those tire marks are from them driving to the set-up area. if you watch some of the videos on his website, youll see that the machine that does all the work actually operates off the principal of a bird's wing flapping pattern (i will not state the type bird, as ALL birds have a different flapping pattern to get them airbourne...ie: a hummingbird will flap VERY MUCH differently than a bird of prey such as an eagle, and different of that of a bird such as a goose, duck, etc. etc. etc.). It IS very possible that even though the video itself was a hoax (because he didnt make the flight 100% all on his own) is still plausable.

either way this is really cool, and i am pretty sure that its possible to do this. just takes someone with brass ones to do it. i myself wouldnt...haha

Er, check the other comments - he's admitted that the whole thing was CGI.

(Regarding bird flight, it is a pretty solid pattern that, the larger the bird, the slower the flap-rate for efficient flight [the largest flying birds barely flap at all once they're air-born].)

oooh...didnt know about the cgi thing...bada$$ though...still i think that he should try to legitimately do this. it is highly possible. though true the fact that the larger the bird the less they flap, they have had how many millions of years of flight time?...they have WAY more power in their legs to push up off the ground than we do. and most larger birds of prey are already perched up on something high thus lessening the effort of flight for them...just a small kick up, and spread their wings.

Either way its pretty cool and is mythbuster-worthy in my eyes. it could be conclusively plausable. with technology nowadays, i wouldnt doubt its will be done sooner or later.

It's not physically possible. The biophysics are actually quite simple, comparatively speaking.

Humans do not have muscles strong enough, or attached in the right places (no breastbone!) to power proportionately sized wings for lift. Given the amount of force human arms can generate, the best estimate I've seen is that flappable wings would have to be somewhere between 15 and 18 meters long each to generate enough lift to fly.

That's why all existing human-powered flight is done by way of bicycles and propellers.

your reading too far into it...read my earlier post before this one...with the aid of machines like what this guy did (although cg), you can most definately fly like a bird if the mechanical components are strong enough (hydraulics/pneumatics, joints, fabric, etc.)...your are slightly right on it not being possible for humans to power a set of wings like a bird...BUT given a long time of conditioning, one could potentially fly like a bird with TRULY HUMAN power (even though we are not built for flapping wings)...but that is lightyears away i bet...but not impossible...NOTHING is impossible...unlikely, yes...impractical, yes. but not impossible...ALSO...not all human flight is used by bicylesand propellers...hanggliders for example...pure human power (if running down a hill not being towed by a plane our outside source). once airbourne one could fly for hours if they utilized thermal updrafts...just like birds.

The gist of the novel is that though it seems impossible, it really isnt. Everyone thought willy n orville wright were crazy...but look at what their crazy notion got us today...we have landed on the moon for one...

1) Paragliders and hangliders are not powered. They are pure gliders. I was very specific in my statement, and quite accurate. Human power is used to drive a thrust-producing propeller, not to flap wings.

2) It is certainly true that you can build a powered ornithopter; it's been done. You could probably even design a drive train to flap the wings under human pedal power, but that would still fall under (1) above.

3) No competent engineers or physicists thought the Wright brothers were crazy. They were following a well-established development program that had been underway for at least two decades, in both the U.S. and Europe. What most people thought was that the Wrights were hoaxers. They refused to make any public demonstrations or to exhibit their designs, and expected everyone to just take their word for it.

1) i didnt say anything about competent engineers did i...i made a general statement of those who did think they were crazy...you read too far into the statements made...i do know that engineers at at their time knew all about it beeing possible to fly...it was done a little over 50 years before their time and possibly earlier than that.

2) break down the meaning of the phrase "human powered" to the basics...if a human runs down a slope to gain speed, they are powering whatever they are messing with human power...the meaning of the phrase "human powered" is a HORRIDLY broad term and can mean many things...it can mean someone pedaling a bike mechanism, roller-blading, and yes...running...all of which use HUMAN power to operate...once again, your only evaluating one side of a multi-sided story.

3) and to end the debate that a pair of wings cannot be human powered SOLELY by using his/her muscles, Otto Lilienthal in the 1800's began to build and test an ornithopter that was at first "human powered" (by means of muscle...not mechanical) which was in time due to become mechanically powered, however he died before that could be accomplished. and no i didnt get that off of wikkipedia.

4) of course the wrights didnt want to show it off...they didnt want anyone to steal the designs and take credit for all their hard work.

Although I don't actually doubt you at all...isn't that what any engineer will tell you about an object with the same specs and aerodynamic properties as a bumblebee? :p

Ahem. My 3-1/2 year old came home from pre-school today with a lovely multimedia picture of a bumblebee (fingerpainted stripes, pipe cleaner legs, etc.). Earlier this week, she had made a helicopter from a toilet paper roll and construction paper, so I asked her why they made a bumblebee. She said, and I quote, "We're learning about helicopters, and bumblebees fly like helicopters, not like airplanes."

So there.

That video was fantastic - hate that it's a hoax. I'd like to see people really accomplishing something like this. :P

Anyway, the dude is a master! He got our attention for many hours.

Yes, I reached this conclusion about 2 hours ago whilst listening to a "bloke in a pub".


Hah! Kiteman may want to update the OP....


MAKE cross-posted an update to this (from Gizmodo) with analysis from several ILM (Industrial Light and Magic) CGI experts.

Their conclusion is that it's an extremely well-produced hoax, with professional-scale digital compositing.

You know what? This would make a great MythBusters episode... As unbelievable as this is, the unbelievable is what makes for great MythBusters episodes.

YES! I saw this on the news the other day, and there is NO WAY that's real.

I find it VERY SUSPICIOUS, that there are "track marks" in the grass that are clearly visible (at 60 seconds into the video), right when they're making their landing.

Perhaps those tracks were made by whatever they used to carry their hoax in the air?

"Smeets says that his wings aren't actually human powered, but use electric motors that are activated somehow by a Wiimote and an Android phone that he's holding in his hands. "

Reading further into the Dvice article on it they offer more theories to debunk it: