Big flap: the ornithopter finally flies

Ornithopter C-GPTR

This happened two days ago, but I only just saw the news on Wikipedia: the venerable ornithopter at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies sustained flight for 14 seconds (2 seconds longer than the Wright brothers) after taking off under its own power (flapping its wings) with a pilot on board at Toronto/Downsview airport. Here’s the Toronto Star story, at least until the link migrates to the archives.

In the past, ornithopters with a crew have flown after being tow-launched, but this is the first confirmed flight of an ornithopter, with crew, taking off under its own power, analogous to the Wright brothers’ achievement with fixed-wing powered aircraft (though probably much less historically important). It looks like Prof. DeLaurier is ready to retire C-GPTR to a museum now, and to let others experiment with bigger wings and better engines.

Transport Canada created a special ornithopter category just to accomodate C-GPTR, though it looks like the Certificate of Registration was cancelled in 1997.

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